Rewrite the IST 466 Curriculum
Rewrite the IST 466 Curriculum
Why this petition matters
The IST 466 curriculum was restructured coming into the Fall 2020 semester to contain three case study projects as the entire curriculum. Many students have expressed issues with this structure for the following reasons:
- Not everyone wants to be a consultant. The case study presentations are a great taste of consultant work. They do a great job of simulating a small-scale version of a typical case study that a consultant would deal with. Many if not most of our iSchool grads will become a consultant after college, however, some do not wish to be a consultant. For those with no desire to be a consultant, the current IST466 curriculum only provides them with some presentation experience for work after college. The skills learned through the case study presentations could broadly apply to many IT jobs, however, they are targeted at consultant work. And not all IT jobs are consultants.
- Because of the way the course is structured we are assigned three case studies over the course of the semester. In order to “simulate” a consultant environment where we may be assigned multiple projects at the same time, we are randomly assigned to the case study groups all scheduled to present at different times. The Microsoft case study is scheduled to present 1/3 of the way through the semester and the EY case study is scheduled to present around the 2/3 of the semester. Our Ethics case presentations are variable depending on the group we are assigned. Which means that some students have their ethics case within a week of the Microsoft case or within a week of the EY case. If 2 out of 3 presentations are done by 1/3 of the way through the course then those students are left with no work to do for the remainder of the course. Inversely, those students who have 2 out of 3 of their presentations in the last 3rd of the course, are coasting until the end of the semester. For perspective, the EY & Microsoft case presentations are only 10 minutes which requires no more than a week’s prep to coordinate. So other than the ethics case presentation, most students are not doing work for their Capstone on a daily, sometimes even weekly, basis.
- The current IST 466 curriculum develops a few skills: teamwork, time management, presentation skills, and some information visualization. ALL are valuable and marketable skills for every IT career. However, all the programming, data science, data visualization, project management, network administration, computer security, and web design skills that we learned were not put to the test. An ideal capstone requires students to use both their hard and soft skills to produce something great, not just soft skills to produce the same thing everyone else is producing. We have concentrations in the iSchool for a reason. We should have the chance to demonstrate our mastery of these concentrations.
Here are some suggested solutions to the Capstone curriculum:
- Restructure the Capstone course to be concentration-specific. Depending on your concentration you have to use your soft skills and hard skills to prove your mastery of IT. For example, if you are a data science concentration, maybe you have to pull some data from Kaggle (or another free data source), analyze it, visualize it, and then work on a team of other students to build a case study around the data findings and solve an issue. If you are a web design concentration maybe you are required to work with a digital retail strategies student to build an e-commerce site and work with a database student to build the backend for the store. And a project management student could be responsible for 3 groups of capstone presentations and makes sure that they get everything done in time.
- Restructure the course to go back to the option format where students have a choice in how they proceed with their Capstone.
- Abolish the Capstone course altogether and offer a portfolio requirement that allows students to create their own Capstone project to reflect their time in the iSchool
Engineering students have to build and program a machine/invention for their capstone, showing employers that they can work together in a team to build something. Business students create business plans/startups. Architecture students build full-scale models in teams to show that they can work together to create something amazing.
Instead of going to an employer and telling them that we worked with a team to analyze a case study and present it; we want to go to an employer and show them a website, or a program, or project that we created with a team or individually that makes them take a step back and seriously consider our value as a part of their company. We want to show not tell. We are not computer science but we are IT and we should be able to show what we are capable of, not just be forced to live up to the consultant expectation everyone has for us.
- Syracuse University
- Syracuse University iSchool