Friday, July 30, 2010

Prepared to Protect and Recover Data

I just moved from Utah to Virginia, and in the 3 weeks we’ve been here, we’ve seen a steady line of thunderstorms move through. Yesterday evening’s storm was the worst yet—crashing thunder, trees down, and a large section of town left without power.

This morning I saw Bridget McCrea’s article “Disaster Recovery: Protecting Campus Data Against the Inevitable” in Campus Technology, and considering our recent storm, I was intrigued.

McCrea wrote about the stellar work of IT systems administrator Bob Full at Coastal Carolina University. Located near the South Carolina coast, CCU sees hurricanes every 3 years on average, and many other severe storms in between. To protect the data and entire IT infrastructure of the university from being lost when disaster hits, Full has implemented “an on-site data protection unit (DPU), which allows the university to protect local data (files, folders, and all user data) on its own servers, desktops, and laptops,” as well as a backup system with data mirroring to quickly restore data if it’s ever lost.

I quickly thought of LabSim’s Server+ course that gives in-depth training on fault tolerance concepts such as scalability and disaster recovery, as well as system restore (ASR and creating an ASR diskette), and backup and restore—including training for backing up in Windows, in NetWare, and in Linux. LabSim Server+ training also teaches RAID Array recovery, server shutdown, and remote management.

Knowing how to secure your data and your company's data against unexpected disaster or accidents is as critical as having the data in the first place. Check out LabSim Server+ for more information on what’s included in Server+ training.

Emily Howard, TestOut

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Make Sure College Prepares You for Your Career

Graduates, did your college education prepare you for the first job you started after graduation? Did the focus of your coursework match the focus of the field you work in? Were your homework assignments meant to be exercises in critical thought, or preparation for the real work you would do after graduating?

Maybe it was one way, the other, or a mixture of both. While I am a lover of learning in general and appreciate education of many kinds, I also feel excitement when I read about colleges that are making efforts to really align the education they offer with the practical work students will do when they graduate and enter the workforce.

In a field like IT, it’s crucial that colleges prepare their students to work with cutting-edge technologies—the technologies they will work with in their very near future. That means more work for the colleges who teach IT and regular training for the IT faculty to know what those cutting-edge technologies are and learning how to use them. Howard Rubin, professor emeritus of the City University of New York and president of Rubin Systems, Inc., was recently quoted in Computerworld. Rubin suggested “ ‘proactive refresh institutions’ that develop, adapt, and augment technology capabilities more quickly and frequently—and more in line with up-to-the-minute business needs—than what is offered through a traditional four-year approach.”

If colleges had a way to be so proactive as Rubin suggests, it would allow them to prepare their graduates to hit the ground running. One obvious way is through certification training. Industry organizations like CompTIA and (ISC)2 do the work of keeping their certifications up to date with the latest, most in-demand technologies and IT skills; training for those certifications allows students to learn those technologies and develop those skills.

How does your college or university keep up to date with the technologies it teaches so that students are prepared for the workforce when they graduate? Does your college train for certifications in IT?

Emily Howard, TestOut

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Technology on College Campuses

On Monday, CDW-G released its 3rd annual 21st-Century Campus Report, an in-depth look at the role of technology in higher education. The report analyzes results of a survey of more than 1,000 college students, faculty, and IT staff members.

The survey found that both current and future college students have high expectations for technology use in education, and their expectations are rising, not falling. 63% of current college students and 93% of high school students said technology offerings were/are important to them in their college selection process, with wireless networks and campus computer labs ranking highest in importance to students.

An important trend noticed through the survey is that students, faculty, and IT staff all place a high value on technology as a learning tool. Technology allows faculty to create a wider variety of learning environments and experiences. One of the most popular and in-demand examples is online classes that offer flexibility to working students. Digital course content also offers cost savings and more convenient access to learning.

From the survey, the following list shows what campus IT staffs view as the most essential campus technologies, in order of importance:

1. Wireless Internet access
2. Digital course content
3. Smart podiums
4. Online collaboration software
5. Virtual learning (also known as online classes)
6. Recorded class lectures
7. HD video conferencing
8. E-reader devices

Ultimately, CDW-G makes a call to action and suggests that campuses “move beyond just having technology to understanding how technology can change the learning process.” With the technology habits of the “Millenial” generation (students about to graduate high school), faculty and IT staff should integrate technology tools into their teaching to improve learning.

Emily Howard, TestOut

Monday, July 19, 2010

Certifications Keep IT Training Consistent

Have you ever thought about how chaotic it could become if every IT training program focused on different skills, different technologies, and different practices? When you entered the workforce, you might find a struggle of opinions on best practices and fundamental knowledge. That’s yet another great thing about IT certifications; they maintain a consistent focus on the skills truly needed by IT professionals and the best practices for carrying out IT roles.

Ryan Corey, director of admissions for the Academy of Computer Education, wrote:
The IT world has always gravitated toward increased homogeneity of training. Standard certification processes, created by agencies that focus purely on setting baselines of IT quality, ensure that best practices are universally followed. With the increased importance of IT in the modern era, it’s important for business and government to conform to certifiable standards to ensure that the flow of information remains intact.

Take A+ certification, for example. A+ is one of the most widely-required, widely-trained-for, and widely-sought-after certifications in IT. A+ certification evaluates fundamental computer maintenance skills, including working with power supplies, motherboards, processors, memory, video cards, networking, security, and many other topics. All who train for and certify in A+ learn about hundreds of current, key technologies absolutely necessary for a computer technician to understand. With training that follows A+ certification exam objectives, computer technicians are universally prepared to work in any technician role.

Emily Howard, TestOut

Friday, July 9, 2010

Virtual High Schools for Military Families

The burden of moving around frequently is heavy for children of military parents, but add to it the pressure of catching up in school and the task of maintaining some consistency in children’s education, and the need for online courses is apparent. The United States Department of Defense has responded to the need and developed new online curriculum to support students of military parents.


According to Zach Miners at USNews, the military's first online virtual high school is scheduled to open in time for the 2010–2011 school year. Administrators have worked collaboratively with experts at UNLV to develop the virtual high school’s curriculum and make it compatible with the courses offered in traditional high schools. “If a student switches schools mid-semester and a certain course is not available at the new school, the student could pick up where he or she left off through a virtual class that is fully compatible with the regular class's subject material,” wrote Miners.

The curriculum of the virtual high school is being designed to include all the courses a student would need to graduate from high school. Miners reported, “The online curriculum is based on U.S. state learning standards and aligned with the coursework of a typical American high school. Courses will be taught by DoDEA teachers, and many instructors will have either an orientation toward or experience with distance-learning technologies, [Patricia] Riley [chief of the new school] says. The agency will run training sessions on teaching online, and UNLV also will provide professional development.”

Do you think virtual high school will be a success for students of military parents? Do you have experience as a student or teacher in a virtual high school? What stands out to you as the challenges and successes of virtual education? Please email us at experience@testout.com or leave a comment.