After a semester’s long journey, here’s what I wrote for my Senior Seminar Exit presentation. Just sharing …
After many formulations of thesis statements and brainstorming of ideas for seminar essays the finale of another great course has come to an end. This however, marks the beginning of new challenges ahead that the Bachelor in Information Technology has pre-planned for us as students of the University of Belize. The Senior Seminar in Information Technology has enriched us as students with a variety of knowledge from industry professionals that adhere to real life work experiences and responsibilities in the job market. In addition, it’s kept us up to pace by encouraging researching and reading on the breaking technologies that keep steadily arising. Overall, the design and structure of the course is truly beneficial for students preparing to go into their professional practice experience by giving them a thorough overview of the overall industry. All deeply rooted in the University of Belize’s vision to foster analytical, self-confident, and disciplined graduates for Belize’s enrichment (University of Belize, n.d).
The Experience So Far
While the general population of the class is getting ready to enter their professional experience, and exit the University in the upcoming semester, I still have a few more milestones to complete. Like them, I’ve also had my fair share of challenges that I have had to overcome throughout the semesters. None would be possible without the encouragement and lessons taught by many of the lecturers, and the eagerness and determination that must be rooted at the beginning to accomplish one’s end goals. Coming into the university after seven years of being accustomed with an eight to five job is no easy task. Mclaren (2012) describes this as a double-edged sword; upsides and downsides of not entering the Bachelor program directly after completing my Associate degree elsewhere. But the need for professional development and aspirations for a wider range of opportunities always has a higher calling.
The challenges to grasp fundamental theorems of intuitive subjects have always been the sweet song at the beginning of every semester. Though, the most challenging class up to date for me has been Calculus. As Davidson (n.d) puts it “technologically, we’d still be stuck in the middle ages were it not for the x and y plane that people begin to learn their first algebra”, yet I’ve always found it difficult to appreciate the core mechanics behind mathematics, especially in Calculus. Throwing myself into a second level Calculus class without refresher courses to bring back the synapses of critical thinking has been harder than those in programming. It’s been a true challenge, but at the same time I’ve gathered useful and beneficial knowledge that helps in the understanding of some core concepts in other computer classes such as that of Telecommunications.
Difficulties with a particular course though are not a reason to shy away or to say the same about others. In fact, almost every computer course taken the University has had some key benefit for me at the work place. In particular two of my chosen electives, Network Engineering and Computer Network Security which have enhanced my knowledge set. These courses have allowed me to become more aware of certain practices and standards that should be implemented at different levels when managing computer networks. With the knowledge gained through these courses I have now begun to approach problems that arise in a more synchronous manner. I no longer try to find just a quick fix for problems, but it’s rather important to look beyond the scope so that there’s preparation for future demands. I feel more involved and knowledgeable with all aspects of my work environment; I’m no longer working half blindly. To add, if there were more courses of this nature as electives I would definitely sign up for them.
As IT students we sometimes tend to overlook at other aspects of the field such as that of business. While there are a few of the business courses in the program, I feel they have had a true impact. Information technology is no longer about sitting behind a computer all day; rather it’s about innovating, helping the community, and making business. ELearn Portal (n.d) notes that in today’s digital age businesses revolve around technology; thus, as professionals we need to understand how to generate profits. With the fundamental business courses applied to our Information Technology skills we’re more capable and have a higher demand in the job market. Understanding how the business environment works is as important as learning how to code. These business courses prepare us with the essential requirements, ranging from communication skills to drafting out formal business proposals.
The Offside and Recommendations
The University of Belize has always held a high position with prestige and honours when it comes to the Information Technology department, in particular because it was the first to boast such an important program for the country. However, as with everything in this life nothing is perfect and recommendations can only strengthen the firm structure it already has. As a student these would be recommendations that I would suggest to be looked into. There’s a definite need to work in conjunction with other Junior College’s to set standards for credit hours that will be easily transferable for students entering the Bachelor program. The availability of necessary documents would also ease the need for arbitrary bureaucracy procedures that sometimes hinder students in attaining the right information at the right time. In addition, perhaps electives could be distributed evenly across semesters, and lastly maybe there is a possible niche target market of customers that would be interested in exploring complete online degrees.
As a transfer student from another Junior College I’ve found it to be very challenging to know what courses from feeder institutions are transferable. Through several occasions I found myself having to make endless run-arounds to have one or two courses transferred. Yet, these very courses were transferred for other students in the past. I had to produce documents showing proof of such instances to have a slim chance of credit transfer. All of this could be avoided if there were “clear” documents stating the equivalency of courses from feeder institutions. Currently I find it that that although there may be some documents in place, there’s still an undecided feeling as to what is acceptable. Collaboration between the University and other Junior college’s needs to start happening, even if it’s by setting the standards of courses that other institutions need to follow. Through this there will be formal regulations and protocols that already establish the relationship between these institutions. As a result students will no longer be hindered a year or more as it is with my case due to the fact that Associate courses had to be retaken. Perhaps it would even help individuals re-evaluate their stance as to whether attend another Junior College or go directly to the University of Belize.
Distributing electives across both semesters would be an ideal adaptation that would benefit students across the board. Majority of the electives are offered during a single semester, while in most cases the following only constitutes of a single offer. Regardless, if a student started at the university or if they are a transfer, a variety of times it throws off their predicted schedule of finishing off the program. This is due to the fact that often times some electives would not attain the numbers and so they are then cancelled. This happens because most students are in an off sequence schedule due to prerequisites, and circumstances that are beyond their control. However, by offering them evenly across semesters would give students a higher opportunity of decide how to better move forward with their sequence.
With the advent of technology there’s been a lot of shifting in traditional methods of doing things, universities continue to transform and reform themselves and one of these methods is the inception of online education. Friedman (2016) reports that as of 2014 about 5.8 million students were enrolled in at least one online course. This shows a steady increase in the demand of online education, and with the increase of technology it will only continue to rise. There was a time when people in Belize had little access to technology, but now it’s becoming more affordable and people are starting to look at alternative options when going back to school. Online education brings the university at the tip of your fingertips with the click of a button. Due to inabilities to attend a physical campuses, people with families, and those who are committed to work are exploring these options. In fact, if the University of Belize would have had a complete online option for the IT program it would been my first choice. It may take a while before the University starts to explore this transformation due to the costs and resources involved, but they must not overlook the fact that nearby competitors such as Galen University and the University of West Indies are already trying to garner the market. The possibilities if they were to venture into the complete online education package are limitless.
The overall experiences at the University have been excellent, and one thing I have learned is that education never stops. My plans are very concrete and straight forward, I have already begun to explore universities for the preparation on my next step. I do plan to continue being full time on the job force, and as such I find myself really looking into the online options as previously mentioned. They will give me the opportunity to pursue my growth with experience, while also aiming to attain a higher level of education. My keen areas of interest have always been on the networking side, so I’m looking to delve deeper into a focused area within the paths of networking. There are much opportunities to explore, and through the experiential learning being gained I’ll have a better perspective on which focus area I’ll be taking on next. Though one can never know if a spark of interest in other focused areas may be instilled.
Ultimately, the University of Belize has done an excellent job in the preparation for the job force. The BINT program is well balanced and gives an all-around knowledge base from hardware, software, business, and general core courses that help us advanced in any task that is placed. I personally feel that as a student if I have not been thoroughly exposed to a certain area during the course of the years, then we have the responsibility to get out there and continue learning. After all, a degree, or education as a whole is not a one stop shop whereby we simply finish what is expected from us and close doors. On the contrary, as students and in particular because we are in the IT field we must view the world as a life time teacher and institution. Everything sums up to a lifelong learning process, new technologies will be introduced year after year, and if we are to be competent at a global scale then we must begin to comprehend that the process of learning never stops.
ELearn Portal. (n.d). Why is Information Technology Important for Business. Retrieved fromhttp://www.elearnportal.com/resources/degrees/why-is-information-technology-important-for-businesses
Friedman, J. (2016). Study: Enrollment in Online Learning. Retrieved fromhttp://www.usnews.com/education/online-education/articles/2016-02-09/study-enrollment-in-online-learning-up-except-at-for-profits
Davidson, J. (n.d). Why is Math Required in College? Retried fromhttps://www.sscc.edu/home/jdavidso/mathadvising/whymath.html
McLaren, L. (2012). Advantages and Disadvantages to Take a Year Off Before Entering University. Retrieved from https://www.italki.com/entry/244691
University of Belize. (n.d). About Us. Retrieved from http://www.ub.edu.bz/about_ub/