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ERIC Number: EJ872702
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010
Pages: 14
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-1547-9714
Challenges IT Instructors Face in the Self-Education Process
Ruzic-Dimitrijevic, Ljiljana; Dimitrijevic, Maja
Journal of Information Technology Education, v9 pIIP-35-IIP-48 2010
Every few years, there is a breakthrough in information technology, introducing a new concept that becomes widely used. This paper deals with the challenges IT (information technology) instructors face due to these rapid developments in the IT industry. More specifically, we are interested in the challenges instructors of the introductory IT courses face in staying current with technology and its use in business. In order to accurately evaluate the instructors' challenges and identify how instructors overcome them, we have conducted a survey among IT instructors and presented the results. The survey includes IT instructors who teach at various colleges and universities in several countries. We are specifically interested in the experience of the IT instructors who teach introductory computer science courses, as they are often heavily affected by the information technology changes. The data gathered in our survey addresses the following hypotheses: (1) The technology studied by the IT instructors when they were in school is not the one they must now teach; (2) The course syllabus of the introductory IT courses changes every two or three years due to the technology changes; (3) The instructors primarily self-teach new technologies by using textbooks; and (4) The lack of time is one of the major challenges IT instructors face in their self-education. According to the survey results, most IT instructors now teach different technologies than those they had studied, which supports the first hypothesis. In the analysis of our survey, we compare the year the instructors graduated, the technology they studied, and the technology they now teach. We find that the earlier the instructors graduated, the smaller is the chance they studied the technologies similar to the ones they teach. We found that none of the surveyed instructors who graduated before 1979 teach a technology they studied. The analysis of the survey also supports the second hypothesis. The results show that 70% of the IT instructors have to change the course syllabus every 2-3 years due to the technology changes. We also found that the majority of the instructors primarily use textbooks and online tutorials to self teach new technologies, which supports the third hypothesis. By comparison, they take courses given by others and work on real life projects far less often. In contrast, most instructors agree that taking courses and working on projects would greatly help them in their self-education. Most instructors (16 out of 20) assert that the lack of time stops them from doing so, which according to the survey is found to be one of the major challenges they face in the process of self-education, supporting the fourth hypothesis. Considering the results of our research, as well as our own experience, we have identified a list of activities that make the process of self-education more efficient and/or effective for IT instructors. These activities include taking on-line tutorials, creating software programs using the environment/language/tools covered in the courses, working on real life projects, taking organized courses, attending IT/CS conferences, seminars, and workshops, collecting experience from industry people, and using the help of advanced students. However, in order to create the time for IT instructors to apply the self-learning methods and stay on top of the new technologies, we conclude that it may be necessary that the university policy include the time for self-learning as a significant part of IT instructors' everyday duties, i.e., as a part of their "job description." (Contains 3 tables and 2 figures.)
Informing Science Institute. 131 Brookhill Court, Santa Rosa, CA 95409. Tel: 707-537-2211; Fax: 480-247-5724; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Adult Education; Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Canada; Nigeria; Serbia; United Kingdom (Great Britain); United States