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University: who needs it

About the Talk

November 18, 2011 6:00 AM

Swissotel, Chicago

Swissotel, Chicago

Traditional university education for software programmers is expensive, inefficient and counter-productive. At best it gives students a grounding in the theory and science of our profession, but with precious little exposure to real projects. At worst it creates advanced beginners who know just enough to be dangerous to their new employers.

There is value in book learning, and we currently rely on traditional university education for it. But the best way to pick up programming principles is through real-world examples on real projects, supported by appropriate exercises designed to drive home specific points. It is certainly not through sitting in a lecture hall.

Why can’t we have master practitioners being paid by real clients to do real work, and have the students along for a ride, learning as they go? Why can't these projects pay for the students' expenses, rather than sucking away their parents' life savings?

Our current university system is designed to create great professors, not great practitioners. Perhaps it’s time for a change.

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