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Michael McGlothlin
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I would agree that under-trained job seekers is a problem but I blame schools. They convince people with no love or talent for programming to take the CS program because it supposedly is the path to wealth. Then they give students a bunch of history and art classes that have no use at all, a few IT classes that are mostly useless, a bunch of math classes that most will forget before they actually find a use for the knowledge (and then have to relearn when they do need it), and then kind of slide in a few half assed programming classes that aren't long enough to learn an entire technology in-depth but are to long to quickly cover a single topic in-depth. Then you get into the problem that most teachers either don't know their topic well or aren't good at teaching. You're lucky if the graduating student can put together a few lines of code let alone write a complex application or work with others. I'd suggest Computer Science education needs an overhaul. It needs to a competency-based approach that focuses on specific tasks and tools in short (two weeks to a month) courses. Math, IT, etc should be focused on tasks related to things the student will actually find useful. Could start with a few short courses on basic math, logic, and computers and then some courses on basic programming concepts like data types, control structures, functions, objects, etc as well as different programming environments and tools and finally start getting into common data structures and algorithms. Then layer in classes on specific topics of interest to the student. A basic LAMP web development class should fit in a month and then students could take more specific classes to give them deeper knowledge of the topic. One month I might take a class on Mac OS programming and the next a class on iPhone programming. Maybe later I'd take Java and then Android programming. Another student might take embedded device programming and digital signal processing. A CS program that teaches just basic programming theory and then a couple OS theory classes is of limited use. As technology grows and changes so rapidly it makes sense to promote on-going education too. Although I have a CS degree I might want to come back and take courses on programming for iPhone and Android. I think standardized tests for any course, and degree, should be a given too. And not just for CS. A degree from my local university should mean I know everything someone from MIT has to know to get the same degree. Likewise someone from MIT shouldn't have to know more to get the same degree. If they know substantially more they should be able to get an additional degree. Taking the tests, and being issued a degree, should be free (or no more than a small administrative fee). Testing should not be done by the same people doing the teaching. That seems a conflict of interest to me.
Toggle Commented Mar 29, 2010 on The Non-Programming Programmer at Coding Horror
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Mar 28, 2010