Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

Technical Training In Tough Times

Your Ticket To A Happy Life?

Perhaps you’ve seen those commercials on TV that encourage you to “get out of your dead-end job” and get yourself a wonderful life. All you need is some (expensive) “technical training”. Well, if it’s on TV, it must be true. Right? And.. computers are everywhere.. Right?

About a year ago, I was asked if I wouldn’t be willing to promote IT training. More specifically — IT training from a certain online “university”. I replied, “Certainly! I am a proud graduate of XYZ Online University! And I would be delighted to give my old school a plug!”

Actually, I’m sure the Promotions man was hoping to hear something along those lines .. but instead he got, “Dear Promotions Person,
1) I am not about to promote something I’ve never even heard of, and 2) I would advise the young people today to learn a traditional Trade — something not IT. Haven’t you heard of outsourcing? Or H1B visas? Orcloud computing“? IT jobs are going away. I mean, Microsoft just laid off 5,000. Microsoft!”
So.. he offered me $10 per link to the school. (Hmmm… 1 link a day.. for a year.. Shoot!)

In the last week, Tech Republic (an IT-centric site) sent me newsletters with these article titles in them:

* A 40-hour week? Not in IT
IT has always been known for its long hours, but according to a new survey by the IT Job Board, the situation is getting worse..

* Workplace suicide rate up dramatically
There was a 28 percent increase in the number of suicides committed in the workplace last year over the prior year. What’s behind this disturbing trend?

* Five job search tips for discouraged job seekers ¹
Authors of a new book encourage job seekers to never give up. Here are five of their tips for job search survival.
(¹ This was also sent out with the title, “Five Job Search Tips For The Hopeless.”)

Hmmm… Why does Tech Republic think IT types will look at those? Maybe because there’s lots of massively experienced and skilled IT people looking for work, and have been for a long time now. They’re now putting up fliers saying “will fix your PC”. I know this because I saw some right next to my old flier.
(I think, but couldn’t prove, that the more experienced and more skilled are being laid off first — because their salaries were higher.)

I personally know several great IT folks who have been looking for work in their field for over a year. And I know a few who have survived the rounds of layoffs — this time. And I know many who are back in the classroom hoping that a different Certification – such as Server Virtualization – will keep them working a while longer. (Which Certificate is “hot” is a big, big topic. Because it does make a difference, as “tech” is always changing {ask a Novell Administrator}).

I’m not saying that IT Training is useless; nor that there aren’t IT jobs. And I’m not any kind of analyst or expert². And I am not telling you how to live your life. But I am saying perception isn’t always reality, and that if you’re thinking about starting a new career in Tech there’s something to consider: in tough economic times, the IT budget is (usually) the first to get cut. And please click those links up there.. and learn about outsourcing. That won’t go away even in a boom time. I am suggesting please do some research. Maybe.. start here.

And, please, be very leery of online universities.

Today’s free links: (for job seekers)
* Online job listing an ID theft scam:
‘Background check’ used to steal full slate of personal info…
* Keep Your Dreams Alive*

Today’s free download: Microsoft Keyboard Layout Creator 1.4
Ever wanted to quickly and easily define your own keyboard layout for a language Microsoft doesn’t support? Or define your own keyboard layout so you can quickly and easily enter your favorite symbols with a simple keystroke? Well, want no more: the Microsoft Keyboard Layout Creator is here!

² I wouldn’t mind getting feedback from those more in the know. Or, who are hiring…

[update: Best U.S. cities to find tech jobs]

Copyright 2007-9 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.jaanix post to jaanix

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September 23, 2009 Posted by | tech | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A New Way Of Learning – Video Games In School

New York Launches Public School Curriculum Based on Playing Games

The first American school with a curriculum built around gaming principles, Quest to Learn (aka “Q2L”) may be at the forefront of a learning revolution—and some think the timing is right. New York City education officials hope that the new school can represent the tip of a “transformative” revolution, according to Metropolis.

Games have long played a role in classrooms, but next month marks the launch of the first U.S. public school curriculum based entirely on game-inspired learning. Select sixth graders can look forward to playing video games such as “Little Big Planet” and “Civilization,” as well as non-digital games ranging from role-playing scenarios to board games and card games.

Each of the 20 to 25 children per class will have access to a laptop and, rather than studying individual subjects, will attend four 90-minute periods a day devoted to curriculum “domains” like Codeworlds (a combination of math and English) and the Way Things Work (math and science). Each domain concludes with a two-week test that is called—borrowing from video parlance—a “Boss Level.”

Now folks, when I first read about this (it was brought to my attention by an alert reader) I have to say I had an immediate knee-jerk negative reaction. For one thing, I was jealous — we did not receive grades for playing games when I was in the 6th Grade. (Unless you count dodgeball in P.E.)

And for another thing, I thought about all the hand-wringing and media-generated fear over “video game addiction“, as well as a certain campaign that’s been telling us violent video games are turning our kids into killers. And I laughed at the irony.
(We humans are so full of contradictions, no?)

But as I thought more about it, I could start to see the possibilities of using our new technologies in a way that engages our kids and encourages learning. I have never been a 6th Grade teacher in New York City and I readily admit I have absolutely zero clue (none, zip, nada) as to the challenges they face.

I have absolutely no idea if this “teach-by-play” idea could be just what the doctor ordered, or turn out to be some “dumbing down” farce. At this point it’s an untried experiment. I am reluctant anytime we use kids in experiments – naturally – but on the other side of that coin, I am disgusted by our apparent modern trend of graduating kids who can’t read, or think critically, and who lack basic skills like making change.

Something has to be done, it seems to me: could this be it?

For more on Q2L, click on the “Metropolis” link.
And, here’s Popular Science’s write up: New York Launches Public School Curriculum Based on Playing Games

Related: College Courses on Twitter, ’Guitar Hero’ — Dumb or Smart Trend?

Copyright 2007-9 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.jaanix post to jaanix

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September 17, 2009 Posted by | Gaming, News, tech | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments