Software Engineering Higher Education Options

Gaining an education in software engineering can be done by enrolling in an accredited school or college. Students who wish to enter the field of computer education can do so by obtaining a degree. Higher education allows students to complete the degree program needed to gain the skills and knowledge needed to enter into a career. Students can train for an associate’s, bachelors, masters, and doctorates level degree. There are numerous things that one should know before enrolling in an accredited software engineering program.

  1. Software engineers are trained to carry out a variety of tasks including modifying, implementing, testing, and designing computers and computer related software. This includes business applications, computer games, operating systems, and much more. The field of software engineering allows students to work as applications engineers, systems engineers, and other professionals. Applications engineers are construct and maintain general applications for businesses and organizations. Systems engineers are trained to coordinate the maintenance and construction of computer systems.
  2. Students will be able to pursue a number of careers with an accredited degree. The ability to train to become computer programmers, systems and applications engineers, and more is available. The type of career will depend on the level of degree obtained. Students can earn an associates degree in as little as two years. A bachelor’s degree program will take around four years to complete. Students who wish to pursue a masters or doctorates degree can expect to spend an additional two to four years on study.
  3. Coursework will vary by school or college and level of degree desired and obtained by each student. Students can expect to study a variety of course subjects related to the field of computer engineering. Curriculum may cover subjects such as programming, program development, troubleshooting, computer networks, information technology, and much more. Accredited educational training programs allow students to receive a higher education by teaching a number of courses related to each individual’s desired career.
  4. With a number of computer engineering specialists and professionals in the workforce students need to gain all the skills and knowledge possible in order to find employment. The number of openings is expected to increase for occupations and careers in this field. The type of career and degree desired will also help decide how much income the students can make. According to the Bureau of labor Statistics professionals in this field can make between $50,000 and $135,000 annually based on their level of degree and experience.
  5. Continuing education courses are available for those looking to improve their skills in their career. Accredited higher education programs allow students to earn certificates in specific areas of the field in order to enhance knowledge.

Students can gain the training they need to succeed by enrolling in an accredited school or college. Agencies like the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology ( www.abet.org ) is approved to fully accredit programs that meet certain criteria. With an accredited training program students will gain the education they deserve. Students can research programs and start the path to a new career by requesting more information.

DISCLAIMER: Above is a GENERIC OUTLINE and may or may not depict precise methods, courses and/or focuses related to ANY ONE specific school(s) that may or may not be advertised at PETAP.org.

Copyright 2010 – All rights reserved by PETAP.org.

Innovation in Higher Education During the Time of Crisis

A Couple of years back I was invited to attend an International Conference in Kolkata (formerly known as Calcutta), India hosted jointly by two very prestigious Indian Institutions on the theme “Innovative Business Practices in a VUCA world.” I was excited and felt a deep sense of joy to accept this invitation to attend as a keynote speaker for two reasons: The theme of the conference was very close to my heart as I always felt that uncertainties are the father of innovation, understanding dynamics of business uncertainties is the core to success. Secondly, the city of Kolkata. A fascinating & bustling city. The City of Joy. Famous for its culture, character, foodies (puchka, rosogolla, mistis, biryanis etc.) and intellect. Nobel laureate Gunter Grass staunchly stated in 1975 “If Calcutta is dying, then every city is dying.” This is true. People in Calcutta are always alive with various problems and challenges they face every day, but they dislike grievance about their agony. I like the city very much and is one of my most favourite cities in the world as it is where I can get my optimal happiness and become oblivious of the other things of the universe, roaming around the dusty roads, bypassing small roadside tea stalls and hearing more Bengali sounds, you feel walking through the grungy layers of time.

The current world is overly complex, unpredictable, and hostile to all of us unless we find a unique harmony to live in and adapt so to the situation. The current outbreak COVID-19 brought that reality to all of us. This is one of the greatest crises of humanity and we are experiencing it first-hand. Individuals, communities, and nation states are struggling to cope with this unknown, unpredictable, and invisible enemy that is causing serious human fatalities and miseries worldwide. While this is true that lights will come after these dark times, and we all will overcome this crisis, it certainly will change the behavioural patterns of everything for the foreseeable future. This crisis will enable people to feel different with better integration. Different in that sense that people will have high confidence, better skills sets, become more capable and more understanding on how to deal with a complex situation; and better integration in that sense that people will be more focused, their emotions, feelings, rationality, attitudes, empathy, cooperation will become more integrated to achieve something for better. I am confident that post-COIVID-19 environment we will all be able to answer one of the most fundamental questions “how this VUCA world is shaping our lives, societies, nations and the world? And how Institutions must respond to the challenges we are facing?

It is a situation of a new ‘normal’ that we are living in a VUCA world that is volatile, uncertain, complex, and of course ambiguous. The unprecedented changes we have seen since the second world war is highly significant, but the current outbreaks of this generations of unbelievable and idiosyncratic. Today’s business context is very turbulent and uncertain, sometimes very hostile & complex and it is important that business needs to evolve, learn, and innovate to survive. Organisations that do not embrace changes are doomed. Change is paramount for today’s dynamic situation. We have seen various models, tools, theories, and techniques to address various challenges we have been facing or to respond business dynamics. In some cases, we are successful, but many cases we are not. Be there anything else we can apply to understand this dynamic nature of business and respond adequately? I strongly feel, one of the many alternatives to understand the social changes are the concept of evolution.

Evolutionary theory provides a generic framework for understanding social change. However, in this article, I am not going to discuss the potential contribution of the evolutionary approaches to dynamic business strategy and how strategic dynamism can be addressed, but rather my discussion will focus on some main challenges all Higher Education Institutions are facing in VUCA world particular in reference to COVID-19 and the responses we need. Institutions must adapt and change according to the context and its new conditionality to survive & prosper in a complex world. I advocate that Institutions should not change their ultimate goals or vision rather they should accept new paths to achieve them, institutions must embrace new situation with appropriate responses. Innovation is the ultimate solution for overcoming any crisis or uncertainties.

Walking around great cities around the world like London at any time, if you look up, we will often spot sign of great thinkers of the past & people who have contributed to the advancement of mankind. Two years back, while I was walking through central London, I was pleasantly surprised to see a Blue plaque marking the fact that Mahatma Gandhi had lived a few times in London. Just think about this. Mahatma Gandhi, a great figure of India and the world, living in London 42 years before the Indian Independence. What brought him there? What did he learn from it? Who did he meet? How he was influenced later in his outlook, having then visited the most capitalist city on planet earth!

It surely must have legacy. Just as he left the legacy on the world. We cannot forget the past that shaped the nation, equally we must look forward with the key reference point in the background. They are surely there in the outlook and in the totality in mankind knowledge. He brought the simplicity, he dreamed with clarity, a visionary and finally brought the freedom for the millions. He taught us that to live, survive and prosper, innovative practices are vital whether it is in politics, corporations or in any aspects of life. He talked about the changes means innovation.

With this reference, I felt that I should recall another classical thinker who talked about innovation and simplicity. I am sure, you may guess who this person is. A great thinker- Ernst Friedrich Schumacher a German statistician & Economist who is best known for his book “Small is Beautiful: A study of economics as if people mattered” published in 1973. This is one of the most influential books in the world. The book focused on the Western/capitalist economic structure in a revolutionary way. He was against the creation of giant corporations. He challenged the doctrine of economic, Technological, and scientific specialisation and proposed a system of intermediate technology, based on smaller working units, ownership should be communal with regional workplaces that utilises local resources and labour forces. He realised the danger of big corporations and the future hegemonic world order. The so-called globalisation is one of the strongest ideologies after the disintegration of Soviet Union started to emerge in all aspects of our lives and civil society members, intellectuals, state actors, corporations accepted the idea as one of the most important stimulus for nation’s growth & development.

The key message of “Small is Beautiful” is relevant to my discussion and that is smallness, simplicity, and innovation. When he talked about education, he realised Education is one of the most vital of all resources. He blamed the educational system when a civilisation is in constant of crisis. He found a salient truth in Gandhi’s observation that ” Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need, but not for every man’s greed.” The concept of smallness brought a revolutionary threat to the contemporary world of economic order what he referred as “gigantism.” What Schumacher wanted was a people-centred economics. In the educational system we want a sustainable and innovative student-centred system.

Gandhi brought innovative practices in politics through his non-violence movement-a powerful tool for social protest and revolutionary social and political change. E. F Schumacher challenged the old Western Capitalist doctrine with his innovative doctrine small is beautiful which becomes a bold idealism for the world. The same mantra uttered by another great visionary Austrian Economist Schumpeter. He talked about the changes and creative destruction. Creativity comes through destruction. Creativity is essential to stay in the race. Creativity is imperative to overcome complex situation, fight with unknown, unpredictability and a mega crisis like the crisis we are facing now.

All these above, three great world thinkers have something common in them: Change. It is vital and change means innovation.

Global challenges

If we question ourselves to find the most important challenges, we are facing in this contemporary world what we will see? We can find out easily several challenges from various credible sources. Instead of looking at various sources, my research organisation sent out a questionnaire to over 400 academics and business leaders to find the 5 most important challenges. However, in our surprise, based on response from 250 of them, Education is found as most important challenge for the world. It reminds me again to recall Gandhi’s Buniady Shksha (Fundamental Education)- Education is that which liberates. He saw carefully that right education is fundamental not the knowledge of facts to make democracy function.

Need VUCA leader for VUCA world

According to the Research conducted by the Boston Consulting Group (2011), organisations that are adaptive and agile are more likely to thrive during turbulent times. To lead and thrive in a VUCA context, leaders must be more adept than in the past at complex and adaptive thinking abilities, such as rapid learning and problem-solving, self-awareness, comfort with ambiguity, and strategic thinking. Indeed, even the most experienced higher education leaders may be taxed in addressing the challenges of an ever-changing (VUCA) environment.

Bob Johansen (2014), distinguished fellow at the Institute for the Future and the author of the book “Leaders make the future” (2012) proposed an antidote, coined as “VUCA Prime”. A VUCA leader must have clear vision, an understanding, clarity, and agility Prof. Vijay Govindarajan-A Harvard Prof. described innovation as mountain climbing. In mountain climbing people are facing many challenges on getting to the top of the mountain. Once you are there you have achieved it and that is rewarding and exciting. However, the real challenge starts as you are coming down from the top because of there are more challenges and dangers. The new situation is unknown for you and you are not prepared for it. We focus on innovation too much on one side and that is to bring an idea/creativity, but real challenge ought to be on other side which is how do you make it happen.

Both individuals and organisations must focus on Innovative approaches. However, to bring innovation we need to have an innovative mindset. We must have clear aspirations and desires to bring changes. It is important to understand that innovation is the commercialisation of creativity. Therefore, It is not an individual approach, rather it is an organizational collective effort. Innovation within the institutions can bring many positive outcomes for sustainability. While advantages are clear but it is not always easy to bring new ideas and innovative ways of doing things as there are many blockages of implementing innovation including poor institutional aspiration, support and funding, resistance to change, complex regulatory framework at both local, national and regional level among others. Therefore, it is important that institutions must have a clear vision and are ready to adapt agile technologies that enable innovation throughout the organisation. Technology can drive the institutions to become more customer-oriented vision of education. Such innovative practices can stimulate collaboration and partnerships with other institutions. This is the only mantra for all of us during crisis and beyond: Innovate, Innovate & Innovate, and change the ways to achieve our ultimate goals without changing our destination.

References

Bob Johansen (2014), leaders make the future, ten new leadership skills for an uncertain world, Journal of Applied Christian Leadership, Vol. 8, Number 1

Boston Consulting Group (2011), Research report on High performance organisation, September

E. F Schumacher (1973). Small is Beautiful: A study of economics as if people mattered. Blond & Briggs: London

Is the Carrot and Stick Method Useful in Higher Education?

Consider how the process of learning begins for students. As a general perceptual rule, when students begin their degree programs they hope to obtain good grades, useful skills, and relevant knowledge. The tuition paid assures placement in a class and there are implied results that students expect as a product of their involvement in that class. In contrast, instructors expect that students will obey the academic rules, perform to the best of their abilities, and comply with specific class requirements that include deadlines for completion of learning activities.

For students, grades serve as an indicator of their progress in class, a symbol of their accomplishments and failures, and a record of their standing in a degree program. I have heard many students state that their primary goal for the class was to earn what they refer to as “good grades” – even though they may not be fully aware of what constitutes a good grade for them. When students aren’t achieving good grades, or the minimum expected by instructors and/or the school, instructors may try to nudge them on – either through positive motivational methods such as coaching and mentoring, or negative motivational methods that include threats and a demeaning disposition.

I found that many educators dangle a carrot in front of their students through indirect methods, such as the potential to earn a better grade, as an “A” in an indicator of the ultimate achievement in school. There may be incentives given to prompt better performance, including additional time or a resubmission allowance for a written assignment, as a means of encouraging students to perform better.

My question is whether the focus of teaching in higher education should be on the carrot we dangle in front of students to perform better or should there be more of a focus on what motivates each individual student to perform to the best of their abilities? In other words, do we need to be dangling something in front of students to serve as a source of motivation?

What is the Carrot and Stick Method?

I believe that most people understand the meaning of dangling a carrot in front of students to motivate them. The phrase is actually based upon a tale about a method of motivating a donkey and while the carrot is dangling in front of it, the stick is used to prod the animal along. The carrot serves as a reward and the stick is used as a form of reinforcement and punishment for non-compliance.

This approach is still used in the workplace, even subconsciously by managers, as a method of motivating employees. The carrot or incentives may include a promotion, pay increase, different assignments, and the list continues. The stick that is used, or the punishment for not reaching specific goals or performance levels, may include demotion or a job loss. A threat of that nature can serve as a powerful motivator, even if the essence of this approach is negative and stressful.

The Carrot and Stick Approach in Higher Education

If you are uncertain about the use of this approach in higher education, consider the following example. You are providing feedback for a written assignment and it is now the halfway point in the class. For one particular student, you believe they have not met the criteria for the assignment and more importantly, they have either not put in enough effort, they did not perform to your expectations, or they did not live up to their full potential.

It is worth mentioning that your beliefs about students are shaped by how you view them and their potential. In other words, I try to see my students as individuals who have varying levels of performance and that means some will be further along than others. In contrast, instructors who believe they do not have enough time to get to know their students as individuals may view the class as a whole and set an expectation regarding the overall performance level that all students should be at for this particular point in the class.

Returning to the example provided, my question to you is this: Do you reward the attempt made by the student or do you penalize that student for what you perceive to be a lack of effort? As a faculty trainer, I have interacted with many faculty who believe that all students should be high performers and earning top grades, regardless of their background and prior classes. When students fail to meet that expectation, there is a perception that students either do not care, they are not trying, or they are not reading and applying the feedback provided. The instructor’s response then is to dangle a carrot (incentive) and use the stick to try to change the necessary student behaviors.

Relevance for Adult Learning

There is a perception held by many educators, especially those who teach in traditional college classes, that the instructors are in control and students must comply. This reinforces a belief within students that they do not have control over their outcomes and that is why many believe grades are beyond their control. I have seen many students stop trying by the time they were enrolled in a class I was teaching simply because they could not make a connection between the effort they have made to the outcomes or grades received. In other words, while they believed they were doing everything “right” – they were still getting poor grades.

At the heart of the adult learning process is motivation. There are as many degrees of motivation as there are types of students and it is not realistic to expect that all students will be performing at the same level. I’ve learned through time and practice that adult student behaviors do not or will not permanently change as a result of forced compliance. However, behaviors will change in time when an instructor has built a connection with their students and established a sense of rapport with them. I encourage instructors to think beyond dangling a carrot and try to influence behavior, and not always through the use of rewards.

From a Carrot to a Connection

It is important for instructors to create a climate and classroom conditions that are conducive to engaging students, while becoming aware of (and recognizing) that all students have a capacity to learn and some gradually reach their potential while others develop much more quickly. My instructional approach has shifted early on from a rewards or carrot focus to a student focus. I want to build connections with students and nurture productive relationships with them, even when I am teaching an online class and have the distance factor to consider. I encourage students to make an effort and I welcome creative risks. I teach students to embrace what they call their failures as valuable learning lessons. I encourage their involvement in the learning process, prompt their original thinking during class discussions, and I teach them that their efforts do influence the outcomes received.

I recognize that this type of approach is not always easy to implement when classroom management is time consuming, and this is especially true for adjunct instructors. However, at a very minimum it can become an attitude and part of an engaging instructional practice. I encourage instructors to include it as part of their underlying teaching philosophy so they recognize and work to implement it. Every educator should have a well-thought out teaching philosophy as it guides how they act and react to students and classroom conditions. A student focus, rather than a carrot and stick focus, creates a shift in perspective from looking first at the deficits of students and seeing their strengths – along with their potential. It is an attitude of looking away from lack and looking towards meaning in the learning process, and a shift from seeing an entire class to viewing students individually. My hope is that this inspires you to re-evaluate and re-examine how teach your students and consider new methods of prompting their best performance.

Reflective Agents of Change: A Role of Higher Education

Changes in operational procedure, management styles and services offered to clients and customers characterize many places of employment. An examination of the internet and other media reveals the rapid development of new products and seamless modifications of existing ones. A factor which caused major changes in people’s income, lifestyle and attitude, is the disruptions in the world’s financial market. Given the fact that change is a global reality, one role of higher education institutions is to enable students to not just function effectively in rapidly changing workplace environments, but to become reflective agents of change.

Being a reflective agent of change

Broadly speaking, a reflective agent of change makes use of reflection in the process of effecting change. Specifically, it involves both cognitive and affective processes such as employing self-directed critical thinking as a means of improving workplace conditions policies and procedures. The reflective agent of change develops an ‘uneasiness’ about protocol, process and procedure which leads to questioning of these aspects of the workplace, trying out new strategies and ideas, seeking alternatives, and using higher-order-thinking skills. The development and use of self-directed critical thinking and ongoing critical inquiry will also result in greater understanding of the workplace. This kind of knowledge is critical to the implementation of appropriate changes in the workplace because, successful changes to policies or procedure depend on knowledge of the nuances, thinking of the employers and employees and overall ethos of the workplace.

Secondly, being a reflective agent of change also involves the use of one’s affective skills as a means of improving practice. Markham (1999), points out that this includes the use of personal intuition, initiative, values, and experiences in the process of making sound judgment and decisions. If affective skills are honed, they will improve one’s ability to react, respond, assess, revise, and implement new approaches and activities.

Thirdly, being a reflective agent of change also requires a willingness to confront the uncertainties of one’s philosophies which undergird judgments, decisions and ideas for change. This is developed by examining ‘self’, personal competences and personal philosophies in a collaborative manner involving receiving, and giving feedback to colleagues

Developing reflective agents of change

From personal research in the area of reflection and reflective teaching (Minott 2009), I conclude that everyone has the capacity to reflect, for reflection is an element of being human. However, I also agree with Posner (1989) that there are ‘more’ or ‘less’ reflective individuals, hence there are ‘more’ or ‘less’ reflective students. This conclusion also highlights the fact that there are those who, for any number of reasons, for example, training or a lack of training in reflective techniques, or personal disposition and likeness or dislike for reflection, emerges as being either ‘more’ or ‘less’ reflective. Therefore, three things are required to develop students as reflective agents of change.

Firstly, there is the need to ascertain their belief and disposition on the matter of reflection. Again personal research (Minott 2009) as confirmed by popular theories, that students’ belief can hinder or help. In this process, it is important to help students to bring their embedded beliefs, values and assumptions about reflection to the fore for examination before beginning the process of encouraging their reflective skills.

Secondly, there is the need to develop students’ proficiency in the use of the techniques and tools of reflection. This includes the use of reflective journal writing, collaborative exercises, the use of questions, and what to question.

Thirdly, there is the need to encourage the affective or intuitive aspect of the practice, for example, sensitivity to factors that make particular ways of operating more or less appropriate, willingness and the capacity to ‘research’ their own work, and an awareness that the choices they make on the job are shaped by their belief.

References

Minott.MA (2009). Reflection and Reflective Teaching, A Case study of Four Seasoned Teachers in the Cayman Islands. Germany VDM Verlag Dr. Müller Aktiengesellschaft & Co. ISBN 978-3-639-15860-1

Markham, M. (1999). ‘Through the Looking Glass: Reflective Teaching through a Lacanian Lens’ In Curriculum Inquiry 29: 1

Posner, G.J. (1989). Field Experience methods of Reflective Teaching New York: Longman Publishing groups

Why Use Podcasting in Higher Education and Training?

Podcasting is only one technology within a whole array of web-based technologies that are used in distance education. In addition, podcasting can be used in many different instructional ways. Therefore, there are many combinations of what is possible with podcasting in education.

For example, consider combining a teacher podcasting with student and teacher discussion groups, and vlogging of student presentations. Or perhaps a face-to-face class in which students create a podcast project that extends in rotation across several class sessions. In this way students can participate in sharing research and perspectives on course material.

The important point is that we do not have to be confined to one model of instruction. This premise is especially true when we have the opportunity to work with digital natives who may very well catalyze new perspectives of the content during the creative process.

Podcasting has been a movement by which more of the general public could be part of the media. It is called the “democratization of the media”.

In a similar way, couldn’t podcasting be a push in the direction of co-learning in colleges and universities? Perhaps, we could begin to see teachers and students share, dialogue and engage more through this media. The professors are content experts, the students may provide expertise in the digital culture. This provides a place where we might have a creative nexus.

In addition, large questions lie right in front of us that I believe students of all ages in higher education can explore, such as:

  • Political issues that collide in the close spaces of our classrooms
  • Cultural understandings that need to be understood within our local and global communities
  • Economic issues that impact worldwide audiences rather than solely local or regional spaces

Such questions pose fertile opportunities for 20, 30, or 50 year old learners as podcasters. Or similarly any aged podcast listener?

From creating podcasts, to critiquing their meaning and constructing new understandings, digital media is a nexus of innovation, technology and empowerment and these are generative elements. Let’s unleash some new possibilities of deeper learning coupled with creativity and expressing understanding. Effective communicators of the 21st century will need these same skills for their professional success. Why not take advantage of the need, the resources and the opportunity to develop engaging critical audio projects in higher education classrooms and training settings?

In a future article, we will discuss how podcasts provide other benefits for these constituencies also.