• Posted by Konstantin 16.10.2008

    Dan said once that I should produce more Weltschmertz in this blog. However, I find this area to be expremely complex to write about because it is really difficult to be even marginally constructive or at least analytic in this field. Anyway, here's an attempt to touch on the classics.

    Today we had a "CS institute day" - a local-scale PR-event aiming at introducing the inner workings of the computer science institute to the students and answering whatever questions they might have about their present or future studies. As it often is the case with such events, the majority of the attendees were not the students but rather the members of the faculty who were either willing to help answer potential questions or just curious about the event. Not more than a dozen students attended. This is unfortunate, as it displays a significant lack of interest of the students towards their studies. There are several reasons for that, the most prominent being perhaps the following two issues:

    • The first "problem" is that studies are free (for most people) here and many students regard them as a nuisance rather than as a way to learn necessary skills. It's often about "I go to university because of some stupid tradition" rather than "I study because I really need knowledge and skills". I heard that the attitude is different in those universities where students pay for their studies. Of course, I'm not promoting the idea of paid studies, but I think that the students would benefit if they could at least mentally put themselves in a situation where the university is something expensive and optional (rather than free and necessary). I'm not sure how to do that, though: whenever the faculty attempts to arrange a motivational event, noone attends.
    • The second "problem" lies in the bloated market demand for IT specialists of any level. Nowadays one can easily get a disproportionately well-paid code-monkey position without any education. This will change, however. As the price level rises, Estonia quickly loses its appeal as an IT outsource country. The internal market for IT solutions does exist, but the pool of available developers grows faster than demand. Three years ago the local large IT companies were literally fighting to recruit as many IT students of any age as possible. Today they are probably still glad to get new people, but it's not as critical. Tomorrow they won't have free projects to assign to arbitrary new people. Finally, the day after tomorrow we are hopefully going to see real competition in IT-skills, which will be the normal situation for an industry. It is high time for a lazy student to think about that seriously now.

    Posted by Konstantin @ 11:49 pm



    1. Mark on 24.10.2008 at 12:42 (Reply)

      Actually I think another factor which can cause loss of interest is too many obligatory subjects (which dominate during the first 1.5-2 undergrad years and are very rarely admired) and too few selectable subjects. The more choices a student can make during his studies, the more responsible he is for the resulting acquired skill set. And since the amount of required credit points is firmly fixed, it won't go too loose. Thus the more freedom you "demand" from a student, the more motivated and interested he becomes.

      1. Konstantin on 27.10.2008 at 10:31 (Reply)

        But if you look at the program then you'll see that there's really nothing especially wrong with the obligatory subjects. All of them are stupid basics that should be known to anyone aspiring to have an education in IT or CS.
        OK, it may indeed be the case that a student "does not trust" what is suggested to him and this kills away some motivation, but then I think this student is in a wrong university altogether.
        I don't believe that decreasing the number of obligatory subjects should help. After all, there is room for choice now too, but that does not seem to induce any excess feeling of responsibility or motivation in students.

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