Thursday, September 17, 2009

Should Colleges Incorporate IT Certification Training into Their Curriculum?

Many colleges across the nation are beginning to offer their information technology (IT) students more practical opportunities—opportunities for learning not just out of a book, but through hands-on experiences—by actually doing what the textbooks teach. Wise faculty and administrators recognize the need for hands-on training to prepare their students for careers in the IT field.

Administrators at Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, Louisiana, were recently featured in an article in Campus Technology for their efforts to make their IT curriculum more current and relevant to the needs of the IT industry. The university is incorporating curriculum from IBM to focus more on practical skills. Nicholls State Professor Neset Hikmet explained that the revamped curriculum will “better prepare our graduates to help organizations use technology to intelligently respond to the global trends and disruptions affecting businesses, while also achieving a sustainable competitive advantage.” Students complete four semesters of practicum that include “work in IT service management, an apprenticeship, lab, and simulation.” Students are also eligible to receive accompanying certification through the program.

Nicholls State University understands that they play a key role in the placement and success of their students in careers after graduation. Incorporating apprenticeships, labs, simulations, and certification into the curriculum serves both the students—who are better prepared and qualified for their fields—and the university—which enjoys a better reputation for its IT program and its job placement for graduates.

Furthermore, incorporating hands-on experience and certification training into a college IT curriculum offers students the best setting for learning and practicing the material companies need them to know. Speaking to Certification Magazine, Marc Vaglio-Laurin, manager of certification test development at SAS, recommended that college settings are the best place for students to prepare for certification exams “because quarter- or semester-long college courses offer a longer period in which to study, practice and acquaint oneself with performance-based tasks.”

TestOut works with many college campuses that have incorporated IT certification training into their IT curriculum because the training teaches their students what they need to know—not only for their IT education, but also for their careers.

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