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No one to teach what matters

By Jean-Claude Elias - Nov 15,2012 - Last updated at Nov 15,2012

If you look for a way to improve your knowledge of any given computer topic, at any given level, you will find countless ways to do that. Be it MS-Excel, networking, web design, digital audio production, MS-Access programming, graphic animation or any of the hundreds of topics available, many are the channels to which you can tune to learn more, or even to learn from scratch.

From specialised training centres to online training facilities, not forgetting the video tutorials found on YouTube and similar sites, the choice is overwhelming. Moreover, small or big, IT companies often offer customised training service to their clients, some at the corporate and others at the private levels.

However, there’s one kind of training that no one seems to offer. Despite more than 30 years of personal computing and all that has happened since, there doesn’t seem to be any methodology to teach you how to approach the machine and the applications. In other words: to choose what to learn, or to decide what the best way to work is.

The world of IT has become extremely diversified. The variety of hardware combined with the unbelievable number of software applications and ways to work, makes it difficult to choose the best product or combination of products. It is often at the price of painful, expensive and time-wasting trial and error experiences that you finally reach the goal you had in mind in the first place.

Do you need Photoshop or Illustrator for that project? Is it better to learn php programming or simply to go to a user-friendly web design application like Web Studio? Is a laptop enough to record high definition audio-video material or would a full-size desktop machine be more appropriate?

I have encountered many cases where the user puts valuable time and effort to learn database programming whereas some good tips about Excel would have done the same job, only in an easier and faster way.

Surprisingly there is no curriculum or method that gives you the broad view of things in IT; a view that would let you make sound decisions, in an easy manner. A view that would let you decide what to learn, which application is the most appropriate for what you have in mind and what machine format will serve you best. A view that would take the shortest path to the best solution. They don’t teach you this in college.

Of course if you are running a large corporation you can always hire an expensive consultant who would do the research for you, but what if you are a home user, or are running a company with 10 people in a small office?

There are two possible reasons for the lack of such curriculum or methodology.

Maybe 30 years is just not enough and the IT world needs more time to come up with such a mature “course”. Maybe it will take another 30 years for that to be achieved.

There’s a more down-to-earth explanation. Maybe it is in the very interest of the giant IT companies — need I name them? — to leave things as they are, to keep us hunting for more, to let us buy and try several products and solutions before finding the one that is best for us. After all this keeps them selling, doesn’t it?

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