What Do Professional Developers Think Of Online Schools Fro Learning

At what age are students better off in a traditional school, versus an online school? Why do students prefer that?

Software development began as an occupation for a specific set of people. Many of those people have moved on now and are focusing on other things in their lives, or even have turned their backs on the world of computer science.

But today, it is much more diverse than it was a few decades ago. Indeed, the general population is going into computer technology either because of chance or because they simply want to make use of the technical skills and work experience. But what do computer programmers, software developers, and others like them think about online schools and their curricula?

A 2017 DataTec and Whitehead Institute survey suggests that a career in technology requires a unique mix of interests and academic competence, along with the right temperament to deal with the pressure and distractions of a fast-paced, high-stress field. So, it might come as little surprise that the participants in that survey widely believed that the ability to navigate one’s mind through the many lenses of creativity and self-expression are essential to having a career in the industry. On the other hand, they believed that working with technology knowledge and refined technical skills is equally as important.

Both are important, of course, but the issues that online schools face in providing the classes necessary to help students acquire the technical skills and ability to become successful in their careers are substantial.

About Skills and Industry

In short, if a new employee (or anyone at the entry level) is going to start out in a computer technology career in any industry, they have to be able to understand how systems actually work. And these systems are not as black and white as people would like to think. I admit that it is a little easier to have a good understanding of systems at the technical level, but it can be far more difficult to understand what drives business systems and how they function in everyday life. Just about every project or project manager I know is quick to tell their new employees when they will encounter problems that are over-simplistic. They quickly tell their new employees that they simply can’t design and build consumer-oriented systems that can cope with over-complex interplay with markets and new lines of businesses. So, it may be easier to understand and write a program for your iPhone, say, but it is more difficult to understand the kind of order of magnitude that separates an airline from a car manufacturer or a department store from a bank. No one with technical aptitude is going to ever be able to comprehend the complexities of global supply chains.

Of course, it is easy to say, but what can online schools do to help aspiring and current students achieve the necessary knowledge and skills to realize their visions for their professional careers? Probably nothing. Online courses can be devised with different tracks, and by all accounts it is too complex a subject to effectively teach it that way. The best online schools (I refer to them as “capable e-schools”) can help students get ready for entry-level technical positions, but they will not prepare students for the complex and theoretical technical fields that cut across multiple disciplines.

Conflict of Interest

One more thing to consider about online schools is that these institutions obviously have a conflict of interest in the effort to produce skills that improve the bottom line. They must do everything possible to maximize student completion rates, and that means they must over-simplify, ease the process, and provide students the skills necessary to move forward in life.

Schools in developed countries are encouraged to be responsible stewards of their budgets, so we are concerned with the trust that schools have in their students and their decisions. If the computer technology industry decides that it does not want to hire graduates with any technical knowledge, then the skills will be destroyed, the students won’t get jobs, and the businesses that hire them will not survive.

I don’t mean to suggest that online schools should be completely virtual and devoid of real interaction, but rather that we are focusing so much energy on getting students to complete online classes that we have not addressed the issues of time and cost.

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