Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Software courses had better be advancing

I really hope university software courses are teaching things slightly differently now than they did when I went through. There have been some new developments in software project management particularly, and some interesting frameworks come along too. Any university not mentioning agile methods, iterative planning, design patterns and Ruby on Rails is short-changing its students.

Then again, it may just have been me. Any time you try to engage in higher learning you sometimes hit a wall and need practical experience to make it real. I knew some design patterns for two entire projects before I understood them. To learn, apply and discuss, then repeat for the same material, would probably work well.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Any course that didn't advance wouldn't get as many students.
PPS - At least in theory. They don't really know enough to choose before they get there.


Miv said...

I agree entirely. Learning without a practical application - er even a notion of practical application - can prove to be very frustrating.

Being able to see how to apply theory in reality can often be the trigger to greater understanding.

Mind you, I also have a ir/rational fear of any knowledge that is in the majority or purely theoretical. That is of course, only if the ability for practicality exists.

Of it could just be my underlying distrust of academia?

John said...

The problem is doing something fairly realistic with the students, given that they're likely starting from many different places. Some will groan at hearing yet again about how many bits there are in a byte. Others will have to take careful notes.

The other problem is that you have a semester for each subject and it's usual only to get the hang of something after doing three projects with it, whether it's a lifecycle technique, a library or a language. I think the whole university structure is ill-fitted to equipping tomorrow's software engineers for the real world.

Miv said...

True... I have forgotten the traditional structure. The MBA I've been doing uses seven week terms rather than 13 week semesters. So for any one subject, I'm only covering the topic for just under two months.

Makes for intresting study, but certainly forces you to focus!

John said...

Sounds intense. Better you than me at this stage. I've considered going back to uni some day (or attending some kind of short course), but right now I'm getting more value out of practical experience and books.