Always Teach to the Future


  • Service Provider

    It always seems like a struggle to decide what to study and what to teach when it comes to technology. But, in most cases, these decisions should not be complicated by the "age" of technology. Teaching the history of technology is, of course, important, but that is a different matter than what I am discussing.

    Whether you talk to students or to educators, you get regular discussions as to what version of a technology should be studied or taught. This always surprises me. Outside of very unique circumstances, since as a student learning in order to specifically use or support an old technology, the goal should be to teach as far "into the future" as possible.

    Students often think "technology X is what is hot now, I should learn that", but students rarely have a good perception as to technology change rates and no historic view into how quickly technology makes it to market.

    Students inherently learn "for the future." They study today to use information tomorrow. That means that any learning done today will be at least a little outdated by the time that they go to apply it. If we are talking about a freshman in college on their first semester and they plan to do some graduate work, that could easily mean that what they are learning today might be six years old by the time that they graduate, easily, and that by the time that they find a job, get acclimated and start using those technologies it would not be uncommon to see seven or eight years before the hands on learning became hands on doing. Eight years is en epoch in IT terms.

    In a real world example, Windows 2012 R2 came out in 2014. A university program teaching it today, as the dominant Windows operating system, to college freshman who will not graduate for at least four years are preparing them to support a technology that is already old today and will be six years old by then. Windows 2016 is already out, 2016 R2 (or whatever it is called) and 2018 are both expected to be out by that time. That will likely make for a world of difference in tools, techniques, technology, features, licensing and most anything else that would have been learned. Of course, the fundamentals will be nearly identical, but if we teach specifics, teaching old does a disservice to everyone involved.

    Considering that a university could have been teaching Windows Server 2016 back in 2015 (it is now 2017) there is little reason that current technology or even future technology is not regularly taught. Students are not going to work in the past, but are often taught as if they are. We have to remember several things when working with students: that we are teaching them for their future rather than our pasts, knowing current or future technologies is generally far more favourable to an employer than an employee trained in outdated information, the field is already full of experienced professionals that have years of experience on old technology against which a new student could never compete - their advantage is on the cutting edge technologies where no one has experience yet and that there is great time between when something is taught and when it will be applied.

    Imagine a CPA program teaching old tax codes, or an engineering school teaching outdated techniques and avoiding new ones. Of course we would never accept that. Why do we do so in IT?

    We should be teaching, and learning, for the future - because our careers are in front of us, not behind us.



  • @scottalanmiller said in Always Teach to the Future:

    Of course, the fundamentals will be nearly identical, but if we teach specifics, teaching old does a disservice to everyone involved.

    @scottalanmiller I thought you were of a mind that universities / colleges only taught fundamentals, leaving the trade / votech schools to teach the hands on / critical thinking type skills (at least where things like IT are concerned).


  • Service Provider

    @dafyre said in Always Teach to the Future:

    @scottalanmiller said in Always Teach to the Future:

    Of course, the fundamentals will be nearly identical, but if we teach specifics, teaching old does a disservice to everyone involved.

    @scottalanmiller I thought you were of a mind that universities / colleges only taught fundamentals, leaving the trade / votech schools to teach the hands on / critical thinking type skills (at least where things like IT are concerned).

    This applies to high schools, trade programs, anything. Even fundamentals you want to be as current as possible.


  • Service Provider

    Fundamentals example: We know that the end of RAID is coming. Students should understand storage in the post-RAID world if they have been in university in the last several years for IT studies. They don't need to know Gluster specifically, for example, just RAIN concepts.



  • @scottalanmiller said in Always Teach to the Future:

    @dafyre said in Always Teach to the Future:

    @scottalanmiller said in Always Teach to the Future:

    Of course, the fundamentals will be nearly identical, but if we teach specifics, teaching old does a disservice to everyone involved.

    @scottalanmiller I thought you were of a mind that universities / colleges only taught fundamentals, leaving the trade / votech schools to teach the hands on / critical thinking type skills (at least where things like IT are concerned).

    This applies to high schools, trade programs, anything. Even fundamentals you want to be as current as possible.

    Exactly... and maybe be aware of tools that operate on the fundamentals, even if they do not know the specifics about setting up said tools. (As you said, Gluster, etc).



  • One of the courses I took in college that was really useful was "learning for the future" where they showed how to keep on top of things and taught "learning for life" skills



  • @MattSpeller said in Always Teach to the Future:

    One of the courses I took in college that was really useful was "learning for the future" where they showed how to keep on top of things and taught "learning for life" skills

    We need to go back to teaching classes like that all throughout high school!



  • @scottalanmiller I was a tech director at a K-12 school in rural northeast Missouri (2007-2009). The tech level of teachers was so pitiful that it is painful to talk about. You have teachers that have no idea how to use technology and they are teaching kids that will be graduating high school in the 2020s. They are literally teaching them the same way as I was taught back in the 1970/80/90s. Getting away with it because they are not "good" with technology. These people would be fired in a business setting because they couldn't find the print button.


  • Service Provider

    @dafyre said in Always Teach to the Future:

    @MattSpeller said in Always Teach to the Future:

    One of the courses I took in college that was really useful was "learning for the future" where they showed how to keep on top of things and taught "learning for life" skills

    We need to go back to teaching classes like that all throughout high school!

    Yup, that's not something that should be waiting for college.



  • My kids are amazed at the fact that I can just "figure out" stuff. I tell them that the most important thing they can learn is how to learn by yourself. You must develop logic skills, organization and reading skills. That will allow you to learn on your own and not be spoon fed. For tech people I think college is a waste of time.


  • Service Provider

    @PenguinWrangler said in Always Teach to the Future:

    My kids Most adults I meet are amazed at the fact that I can just "figure out" stuff.

    There you go.



  • @PenguinWrangler said in Always Teach to the Future:

    For tech people I think college is a waste of time.

    Depends on the kind of tech. There's stuff you should definitely learn in a classroom before you have any business being on a job site. I generally agree that fundamentally how higher education is taught could be improved greatly.



  • @PenguinWrangler said in Always Teach to the Future:

    My kids are amazed at the fact that I can just "figure out" stuff. I tell them that the most important thing they can learn is how to learn by yourself. You must develop logic skills, organization and reading skills. That will allow you to learn on your own and not be spoon fed. For tech people I think college is a waste of time.

    This is ultimately how I wound up in IT... I just got good at troubleshooting problems, no matter what the OS or non-computer electronic device (yes, I have fixed the office coffee maker a time or two, as well as the electric heater for some relatives!)



  • @MattSpeller @dafyre I do have a degree. It is only so I can get an interview. Please don't take this as me being harsh either but there are other ways to learn IT and get skills other than a four year university. With the over inflated cost of a four year university I just don't see the value, don't even mention being a well rounded individual, I can become well rounded on my own and don't need that spoon fed to me either. I have used absolutely 0% of what was taught to me at school in my career in IT. Maybe the program I was in was absolute crap and has tainted my view, but this is just my opinion on going to a four year school for an IT career.



  • @PenguinWrangler said in Always Teach to the Future:

    @MattSpeller @dafyre I do have a degree. It is only so I can get an interview. Please don't take this as me being harsh either but there are other ways to learn IT and get skills other than a four year university. With the over inflated cost of a four year university I just don't see the value, don't even mention being a well rounded individual, I can become well rounded on my own and don't need that spoon fed to me either. I have used absolutely 0% of what was taught to me at school in my career in IT. Maybe the program I was in was absolute crap and has tainted my view, but this is just my opinion on going to a four year school for an IT career.

    You share that opinion with several of us here. :-)



  • @PenguinWrangler said in Always Teach to the Future:

    @scottalanmiller I was a tech director at a K-12 school in rural northeast Missouri (2007-2009). The tech level of teachers was so pitiful that it is painful to talk about. You have teachers that have no idea how to use technology and they are teaching kids that will be graduating high school in the 2020s. They are literally teaching them the same way as I was taught back in the 1970/80/90s. Getting away with it because they are not "good" with technology. These people would be fired in a business setting because they couldn't find the print button.

    OMG I wish people would get fired over not knowing where the print button is.


  • Service Provider

    @MattSpeller said in Always Teach to the Future:

    @PenguinWrangler said in Always Teach to the Future:

    For tech people I think college is a waste of time.

    Depends on the kind of tech. There's stuff you should definitely learn in a classroom before you have any business being on a job site. I generally agree that fundamentally how higher education is taught could be improved greatly.

    Doesn't mean college, though. Those are normally safety things. And classrooms teach very little. If it's risky, they should be certified. It's the testing that matters, not the classroom.



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