Should You Go Back to School? - Tech Learning

Should You Go Back to School?

Returning to school for a master's degree to advance within the IT profession isn't as easy as ABC.
Author:
Publish date:

Courtesy of Network Computing When I decided I wanted to advance to the C-level of the IT profession, I knew I'd need a master's degree. Like many IT professionals, I have quite a few vendor certifications and a bachelor's degree in the technology field, but most of the CIOs I know have advanced degrees. I chose an MBA program that blended technical and management coursework. Overall, it was a good decision, but I didn't account for the enormity of the challenge. I assumed my practical knowledge and experience would make the technical courses a breeze. I was in for a surprise. The school required you to take two courses just to apply for formal acceptance in the program. When I saw they had a Network Communications & Protocols course, I thought it would be easy and familiar. In fact, it was daunting, both in terms of workload and technical depth. Remember when you were a kid and your mom would say, "No TV until your homework is done"? Suddenly I found myself back in that very same position. Every two weeks we had to hand in 10 homework questions: Compare and contrast different router protocols, describe in detail the use of a collision domain, diagram all components needed for VoIP service .... Ten questions may not sound like much, but the instructor required such extraordinarily detailed answers that I found myself going beyond the three required texts to my own stack of technology books to write satisfactory answers. Each homework set took anywhere from six to eight hours to complete--that was on top of attending lectures and studying for exams, plus completing the workload from the second course, which was on e-commerce. And I am no longer a 20-something student, so I found it difficult to balance work, school and family. Many nights I was completing assignments or studying for tests into the early hours of the morning. My son thought it was funny that Dad had homework to do. The network staff also found my struggles amusing, though they, too, were astounded at the level of technical detail the networking course demanded. What's more, I couldn't help but take issue with some of the networking course content. Much of the information in the text was based on theory, not reality. A test question about IP subnetting, for instance, had public IPs on all workstations on a domain, but nobody I know would put public IPs on all the user workstations. Several homework questions also emphasized the theoretical over the practical. In one scenario, you had a hub and a switch each with 12 ports, and the question was about hooking up 20 computers. The "course" answer was to leave several of the switch ports open for growth. My reply was that you could always just change cross-connects and buy yourself another dang switch, since they're so inexpensive now anyway. Sometimes my professional knowledge didn't seem to count for much, though. The professor and teaching assistants could quote chapter and verse from the text to justify their answers compared with the ones I gave based on real-world experience. Despite all that, I found the networking course content quite useful overall. I immersed myself in the nitty-gritty details of IP, UDP, TCP, NAT, WANs and more, and I came away with a deeper knowledge of key technologies and protocols, which will certainly be helpful on the job. And I also got full entry into the master's degree program, which I hope will help my climb up the corporat ladder. It can't hurt--unless you count the homework. Hunter Metatek is an enterprise IT director with 15 years' experience in network engineering and management. The events chronicled in this column are based in fact--only the names are fiction.

Featured

Related

Going Pro

Schools embrace video production and videoconferencing. Text may be here to stay, but that isn't stopping K-12 schools from broadening their curriculum offerings to include audio, video, and other multimodal styles of communication. A combination of savvy digital natives, affordable software, and online tutoring has

Back to School Product Guide(2)

For teachers and administrators, a new school year means weighing new options. From network security tools to formative assessment products, the realm of educational technology offers no shortage of tools for classroom and district improvement. Technology & Learning's Back to School Product Guide provides a glimpse of

N.C. parents go back to school

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) has partnered with North Carolina’s Guilford County Schools (GCS) to provide educational content for the recently launched Guilford Parent Academy.

Back to Basics

Tip: I recently had the opportunity to give 45 minutes of one-to-one training for each of the K-5 elementary teachers at schools where I serve as Curriculum and Technology Specialist. The training was needed to improve use and understanding of a new, standardized OS X set of programs that had been installed on all

All Library Systems Go

Just as the three Rs—reading, ’riting, and ’rithmetic—form the early foundation of education, today the three Ps—prepare, plan, and perform—form the foundation for integrating technology into the school library system. The three Ps serve as a guide in the development of a

Image placeholder title

Hit the books: Superintendents go back to school to sharpen tech savvy

With the help of an Enhancing Education Through Technology grant, Marla Davenport, director of learning and technology for TIES, a St. Paul-based nonprofit consortium of 36 Minnesota school districts, helped create a Superintendent Technology Leadership Academy (STLA) using CoSN’s “Empowering the 21st Century Superintendent” curriculum, built around five themes with a day-long meeting per theme.

Back to School

Back to School Teachers, here's a great resource for finding new ideas for Back to School. Helpful to both new and veteran teachers alike, its authors provide ideas for getting to know students quickly, behavior management, printable worksheets, help for first-year teachers and substitutes, and much more.