Tuesday, February 24, 2009

College isn't useful without context.

While studying for an exam I came across this question:

When several different vendors and/or products are candidates and you want to solicit competitive
proposals and quotes, what would you use?
The answer is a request for proposal. In my different jobs I've come across this term a few times, and when I saw my available options I knew this was the answer. Now if someone had asked me what a request for proposal was before I read that I wouldn't have been able to answer the question. When I saw this definition with a list of possibilities, I remembered that the definition seemed to fit the scenarios I've encountered this word in, so I guessed it right. The next time I hear someone talk about an RFP, I'll probably know better what they mean.

This class is part of my IT major and is designed to teach students about the business side of information technology. It deals with the different processes one can expect to encounter while working in an office handing information technology issues.

To someone like me who already has a few years of experience, these terms and processes have practical application to my world. To someone who has no experience, who this class is ultimately designed for, these are just a bunch of words with a bunch of definitions that don't mean anything. The very definitions themselves hold no meaning, so applying them to a word doesn't help.It is like telling a person that has been blind for their entire life that white is the result of mixing red, blue and green light together in equal proportions. You could test a blind person on this, but without sight, it does the blind person no good. You'd might as well tell students to remember to put P next to the number 113 on the test, because that is all the college student is thinking while studying for a test.

We need to encourage our college children to get a job, or at least intern, in their career of choice. Once able to take these seemingly vague idea, processes and definition and give them real world application, students will be able to pull meaning out of the effort they are putting into their classes.

I work and have worked with a lot of people who I know had to have taken these same courses when they where in college, but do not apply many of the most important business tactics. It is probable that the reason that this is the case so frequently is that when they took these courses these ideas had no applicable meaning to them beyond getting a good grade in the class. Once the answer was jotted down on that test paper its usefulness was put to full use and discarded.

College should not be building new theories as a base for knowledge in a subject to be built up in afterward once employed. Students should come in to college with a good base, and they should then have that solid base built up in class.