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Advice re: IT Masters

Sam Tilley
Ranch Hand

Joined: Dec 05, 2001
Posts: 160
Hi,
Recently i have started a online Masters in IT in order to help give my career a boost and get a better fundamental knowledge.
It is 8 modules and I am currently doing the first compulsory one in Computer Structures but i was looking to get some advice from some intelligent people who may have more experience in this area than i do (thats means you guys ) about what other 7 modules would be good to take.
There is Core Modules Group A (have to take at least one) containing
A) Object Orientated Progamming and Design using C++
B) Object Orientated Programming and Design using Java
C) Programming the Internet
Core Modules Group B(have to take at least one) containing
D) Database Design
E) Computer Communication and Networks
Elective Modules
F) Advanced Topics in Computer Science
G) Artificial Intelligence
H) E-Commerce
I) Software Engineering
J) Security Engineering
K) Operating Systems Concepts
I want to take the ones that are going to be most useful in the real world. My current plan is to take
A) Object Orientated Programming and Design using C++ (i know this might raise a few hackles but my reasoning is that if i do the Java one i will only be going over stuff i have already done in my SCJP, SCWCD, and it can't help to broaden my skill set)
C) Programming the Internet
D) Database Design
I) Software Engineering
H) E-Commerce
K) Operating Systems Concepts
And i'm not sure about the last one. Maybe Computer Communications and Networks or Advanced topics in Computer Science.
Does this lot look ok??? Any help would be much appreciated, especially from another Masters graduate who might have experience in any of these areas, but any feedback would be useful.
Thanks in advance


Sam Tilley SCJP, SCWCD
Richard Scothern
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 25, 2001
Posts: 83
Hi,
My two cents, I'm assuming you don't have a BSc in a computing area?
A) I agree with your choice here, having C++ knowledge is still valuable. In the UK it is a far more sought after skill (6 places in the league table I believe) than java.
D) & E) I think taking both of these is sensible. Databases are an unavoidable part of IT and programming in particular, and this knowledge will be useful. Considering that now and in the future most applications you write will run over networks, the more you know about them the better.
If you are a SCWD, then I'd probably skip C) unless you know it covers areas that you haven't.
My choice for the rest would be F) G) I) J) K) I think these are all worth doing, plus I think a module in e-commerce would be a waste of time, learn what you need to know from a book. I think the other modules are far more valuable core computer science subjects. They may not be 'the latest cool thing', but they contain what you need to know. Plus AI is extremely interesting!
HTH
Richard
boyet silverio
Ranch Hand

Joined: Aug 28, 2002
Posts: 173
hello Sam,
Curious about online masters. How does the masters programme measure the extent of what a student has learned? Say in one module, how many assignments/research activites are given? How many test exam per module? How fast does the teacher give feedback?... Can masters be done part-time... i mean how many hours do you usually allot everyday for masters purposes? i understand masters is mainly the student's effort, professors only issue research assignments to evaluate, however, what does the online school also has to offer? Does it have online references, educational materials normally not available in the internet? etc..
Don't know anyone who took up online programme. Gone to some sites but have not found many of these details.
Thanks to any response.
Sam Tilley
Ranch Hand

Joined: Dec 05, 2001
Posts: 160
Thanks Richard for the great advice. Im glad you agree on the C++ issue (its also good because i am also from the UK), its just a pity they haven't progressed to doing a C# module instead, and can see your point on the networks issue.
However you didn't like the programming the internet and ecommerce issues. The former looks good because you get to design sites in several different languages (asp etc), and the second one (i thought)is quite a big area. However maybe i am swayed because i already do some web design and so it interests me.
Are you saying from jobs perspective that they would'nt be much good???
Why is a module in e-commerce a waste of time??
Boyet, the masters i am doing is from the University of Liverpool (UK) , and so is a proper full masters. You do 8 modules, each of which is split into 8 weeks. Each week your tutor sets you a chapters reading, then you have to write answers to 2-3 discussion questions (essays) by halfway through the week which are posted online and then spend the rest of the week reading other peoples and posting comments, extensions to what you and they said etc. In other words simulate chatting in the classroom, and you also have homework questions to post by the end of the week. There are also projects to do and an end of course dissitation.
It is marked (in my first module anyway) as a split 1/3 of the marks for the DQ's, number of (to ensure adequate attendance) and quality of replies and homework (we start projects next module). So there are no test-exams as such but you are marked on your participation and i have found so far that its a good way of doing it. No cramming for exams and i have learnt huge amounts in only 4-weeks. It is part time, you are expected to do 12-20 hours a week, although its easy to do much more!!! and so because its part time it takes 1.5 - 2 years to finish instead of just 1 year.
Its all online but so far it has been excellent. My head of IT is halfway through it and even though he has years of experience he is finding it really good to do. The benefit of online study is that you can do it in your own time to suit your own schedule, so it can fit around work easily. Most of the best information can be found on the internet anyway and much quicker so it all kind of makes sense.
I have 11 in our class but one is in China, one in South Africa, one from Canada and our tutor is living in California, so it is a real worldly experience, and as most have several years experience they can help out almost as much as the tutor.
Anyway i have waffled on too much, if anyone has any extra feedback as to what courses are good to take i would be very grateful.
Thanks
Richard Scothern
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 25, 2001
Posts: 83
Sam,
Yes it is a shame their is no C# module yet, my old university (Hull) offers an entire masters degree program in .NET. Scary!
The reasons I wouldn't recommend the programming the internet and ecommerce modules are many. Creating an ecommerce website is a sufficiently refined art that there are many tools available to create them. I think reating one (ecommerce site) from scratch (in any language) would just be a waste of effort. As for programming the internet, well it just seems to me that you wouldn't learn _that_ much from it if you already are a SCWCD.
However saying that, I think you should do what you enjoy!
Hope it goes well.
Richard
boyet silverio
Ranch Hand

Joined: Aug 28, 2002
Posts: 173
Sam,
thanks for your informative response. Helps one think in considering online programmes.
Regarding your choice of modules, though i don't have such masters, you can probably look at g) artificial intelligence. This could become a big frontier fit for the full capacities/capabilities of computers, which are becoming more and more powerful.
well wishes in your pursuit of masters.
Alan Blair
Greenhorn

Joined: Mar 19, 2003
Posts: 2
I read in a magazine that many employers do not value an online degree or at least they do not value it as much as a standard degree. They wonder what it means. Look into accreditation of the program and how well accepted it is (check with school).
Also, technical skills alone do not win the day, especially in our current environment. You have to understand the key problems of your some target business adreas. I do not really understand the current technology recession. If you can figure out why it is happening in your domains, then you can better adjust your strategy.
In part, I think firms buy less software and maintain less software because of the availability of open source code as well as declining demand.
The degree is less about what you know. It shows that you can work hard and learn new stuff. Also, employers have huge principle-agent problems. Employers want people who are "easy" to get along with and honest. They want your "good" qualities to cover all the situations that a contract cannot handle.
DataComm and Databases are very useful.
I would go towards courses that build Web Services skills. I feel this is going to be a growing area.
 
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