On data management education

Rhodes UniversityI have recently returned from a trip to Grahamstown where I had the opportunity to visit the the Rhodes University IS department

It has been over twenty years since I graduated and I was curious to see how the curriculum has changed.

In particular, I was curious to uderstand how data management is catered for in the curriculum.

One obvious change is that the Departments of Computer Science (more technically oriented) and Information Systems (more soft skills) now share a building and are working more closely together. This is a good thing as, clearly, the combination of technical and soft skills produces a well rounded graduate.

Unsurprisingly, data management is not a major focus.

While basic database design and SQL programming are taught, data management skills such as data governance, data quality and the like are not. Of course, any undergraduate program had competing priorities – to some extent the lack of a data management focus (which is not unique to Rhodes) is due to a simple lack of time and the choice to focus on other, competing, priorities.

It is also a factor of understanding – how do we make data management relevant, and interesting, to a young student with little or no real world IT experience?

In many ways these two issues are the same as those that impact data management in business every day.

Data quality, and similar disciplines, must compete for budget and relevance against a myriad of other priorities – from new applications to new infrastructure to, in extreme cases, just keeping the lights on.

I have been invited to deliver a guest lecture for Rhodes later this year, as part of the data management course. I am looking forward to it and hope that this will see Rhodes, and other universities, begin to focus more on data as part of their curriculum.

Until that happens, data management courses such as those we offer in partnership with eLearningCurve.com will continue to be the primary option to train data management professionals.


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