Academic journal article Issues in Informing Science & Information Technology

An Overview: Approaches for the Development of Basic IT Skills

Academic journal article Issues in Informing Science & Information Technology

An Overview: Approaches for the Development of Basic IT Skills

Article excerpt

Introduction

The significant improvements in IT continue to occur at an ever-increasing pace. The speed, size, cost, and capabilities associated with computers and telecommunications provide a wealth of highly attractive opportunities for using this technology to help solve business problems or enhance current ways of doing business.

It is nearly impossible to run a competitive business without a computerized Information System. From a business perspective, IT can be summarized as a range of technologies to capture, store, process and transmit information in support of business activities. Computers are considered as tools for processing information. Information Technologies, at the same time, are tools and techniques, which support the design and development of Information Systems including hardware, software, databases and telecommunications. Companies that can integrate various technologies to achieve business goals are often very successful (Gupta, 1996).

Information Technology in its narrow definition refers to the technological side of an Information System. Information Systems are defined technically as a set of interrelated components to collect (or retrieve), process, store, and distribute information to support decision making and control in an organization by using software tools such as word- processing, database management, graphics and spreadsheets modeling (Birnbaum, 1989; Laudon & Laudon, 2003; Turban, 1996).

Indeed, the importance of IT in business organizations warrants its study. In recent years it has been recognized that the success of a business organization largely depends, not only upon IT, but also upon the way in which its workers use it. These organizations need workers with more IT skills and not just with data entry or word-processing expertise.

Students of today need to be able to understand and apply this technology to be more proficient in IT skills used in business. There is a general recognition that students in secondary, further and higher education need to acquire IT skills, and that these IT skills should include word processing, spreadsheets, graphics and databases (Freeman & Rowley, 1995; Rowley & Coles, 1996).

The implications of IT for all walks of life have posed many important issues and possible avenues for investigation. One of the important issues is to explore different ways of acquiring the IT skills used in business. The major focus of this investigation is to provide an overview of different approaches used in delivering IT skills to new entrants in the institute of higher learning and possibly suggesting a suitable approach to meet the changing needs of IT in business.

IT and Educational Institutions

In July 1996 an international conference "International Conference on the Place of IT in Management and Business Education" sponsored by the International Federation for Information Processing (IFIP) was held in Melbourne, Australia. This examined IT education programs at all levels in different educational institutions around the world including Australia, Finland and China.

Most undergraduate courses in Australian universities designed to develop managers and accountants are structured around 24 subjects, or units, and include a single compulsory unit in information technology, which constitutes less than 5% of the total subjects offered. Hewett (1997) has suggested that general business students need to take additional relevant IT units and the courses should be more application-oriented than technical.

In China the business management students are offered a single subject regarding business IT knowledge--"Modern Management Information Systems"--and the credit for this course is only about one-tenth of the total credits (Shan, Jun, & Tong, 1997). The BBA students in Finish universities earn at most 7 credits for IT or only approximately 5% of the total credits required for a degree program. …

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