Academic journal article Journal of Information Technology Education

Are We There Yet?

Academic journal article Journal of Information Technology Education

Are We There Yet?

Article excerpt

Introduction

Can we put a stake in the ground? Not in the telecommunications industry. Changes in technology and government regulation continue to transform the telecommunications industry at an unprecedented rate. Voice communication was once the primary service of the industry; "convergence," the transmission of data, graphics, and video over the same networks, is now commonplace. This industry now encompasses networks of leading-edge technologies such as wireless, fiber optic, satellites, cable, and, of course, copper, which connect computers and allow organizations and individuals throughout business and industry to communicate instantaneously around the world. New technology will continue to transform this industry. The installation and upgrading of fiber optic and wireless networks continue to bring ever-faster communications to residential and mobile customers. The boundaries between the telecommunications provider and internet provider are disappearing as internet providers (e.g., Vonage) now offer 'Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone services and wireless providers (e.g., Cingular and Verizon) offer email, audio and video downloads, as well as web surfing capabilities. How long before live television is available on your cell phone? Oops, an internet search reveals that mobile TV is now available. What was that comment about a stake in the ground?

Since the telecommunications industry provides the architectural structure for today's business and personal activities including e-mail, e-commerce, e-banking, video conferencing, telemedicine, data interchange, asset tracking, on-demand video, web casts, pod casts, video casts, VoIP, and a host of other traditional and new uses for business and industry, people qualified to design, implement, and maintain such systems are in very high demand. In 2000, U.S. Department of Labor (2000) statistics forecast that between 1998 and 2008, telecommunications industry employment was expected to grow 23.4%. Looking closer at the data, telecommunication system management was expecting a 37.3% increase; and related systems analyst, engineer, and scientist positions were expecting a 71.5% increase.

Because of this projected growth, in 1998 MSU decided to respond to a request from the state to develop a program of distinction in this field with support from special state funds. The objective of the proposed program was to establish a high-quality, interdisciplinary technical and business undergraduate and graduate curriculum in Telecommunications. The proposal was accepted and the Murray State University Telecommunications System Management (TSM) program came into existence.

As the initial TSM curriculum was developed, it was recognized that telecommunications systems managers' responsibilities and skills were changing rapidly along with the industry. Given that ever changing environment, the curriculum architects knew the TSM students must develop comfort with uncertainty and change but still be able to make effective decisions. The curriculum architects believed the TSM graduate must possess foundational knowledge for effective problem solving in the following areas:

* Industry regulations

* Networking technologies

* Electronic commerce (B2B, B2C, C2C, etc.)

* Customer service

* Product and project management

* Total quality management

* Return on investment

* Strategic business advantage

* Tools, methods, and applications

Therefore the TSM curriculum was developed with these objectives:

* Graduates must not only be capable and informed; they must also be creative and flexible * Graduates must be able to manage change in a diverse, rapid-paced, global economy * Above all, graduates must accept that education is a lifelong journey that continues well after graduation.

Where Are We?

The first students entered the program in the fall of 1999. …

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