The Downside of College Teaching

“Teaching young minds is great and keeps you young!”

There is some truth to this made-up quote. Growing older, you might get set in your ways, but younger people will most certainly challenge you to rethink those. While there is a lot of positive things to say, I want to discuss two difficult but critical issues that a new college teacher needs to be aware of, in particular if they are coming in from industry.

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Why Informatics is Everyone’s Business in Academia

Informatics (worse: Computing science; even worse: Computer science) is the discipline of automated data processing (where automation is both human independent and dependent, and data in context becomes information). The non-IT industry has learned the hard way over the last few decades that informatics is part of their core business, not just some support function. Financial institutions, automotive suppliers, advertising agencies and so forth are all recognizing that informatics is a key business aspect for them.

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What is Meant by “Teaching Fundamentals”?

In my previous post I noted how students and professors are often talking past each other, where some the former want to learn immediately applicable knowledge and the latter want to teach long-lasting fundamentals. I also noted that there is no contradiction here, which begs the question what professors mean when the say they want to teach fundamentals? Students may hear “irrelevant stuff nobody cares about” but that’s obviously not it. So let me explain.

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The Place of Professional Certificates and the Significance of an Academic Degree

My Twitter feed is alight with comments on Google’s six-month “career” certificate, which, according to this SVP, Google will treat as equivalent to a four-year Bachelor’s degree. Predictably, a large number of comments are from students who conclude from their own disappointed experience that all college programs are crap. They cheer on Google. Also predictably, I didn’t see a single academic professional join and comment in the discussion.

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