Thursday, April 23, 2009

Integrating IT

In “Tech Skills Crucial to Any Career, Students Say,” Denise Dubie reports on an IBM Academic Initiative survey that:
“found that 80 percent of 1,600 college students polled agreed that high-technology skills will help them succeed, and a majority expect to have to master new technologies while in the workforce. More than 50 percent of the students said they plan to improve their technology skills before they graduate, with technology being the top skill that students want to pursue, followed by writing and marketing skills.”

True. But that’s not exactly a new finding. The late Helen Loeb presented a similar finding from her survey of engineering students over 20 years ago at the Society for Technical Communication Annual Conference (can’t remember the exact one; I think it was Denver 1987).

She also compared those results with a survey of students 10 years after they received their degrees. By then, they realized that communication skills were the most important in moving their careers forward.

What’s different by the IBM survey is that it was not conducted with technically-focused students. It encompassed students in other fields, like healthcare, and found that IT is basic to even these fields. Mark Hanny, an IBMer involved with the study, concluded that:
"Studying IT and technology in a broader sense is the right approach; it helps students understand how technology is applied to various businesses to help streamline operations," Hanny says. "IT is being embraced by students as a core competency across many professions and no longer considered a narrow, specialized skill set."
That’s an especially important finding for a field like educational technology

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