Some thoughts on the ACS

Following a number of posts by fellow MVPs Rob Farley (here, here and here) and Mitch Denny (a number of posts on the ACS and professionalism) I thought that I should add my 2 cents worth.  I will start with briefly recapping some of the discussions that have occurred to date.  If you are familiar with these, please don’t stop reading, just jump over this section

Previous thoughts

– “Digital natives won’t do school. But they still want to learn” –  I couldn’t agree more with this comment.  Towards the end of my university degree I was soooo bored that I rarely attended lectures.  The process of attending lectures IMHO is basically a waste of time as quite often the lecturer is just reciting what the textbook already says.  I much prefer the tutorial style learning that involves group collaboration and active discussion on a topic.

– “Need to reinvent school” – As a follow on from the previous point, if we still want the Digital natives to learn, we need to reinvent the learning process.  For example we are already seeing computers being used in classrooms.  How does this impact the way that a teacher communicates with the students?  Are they prepared for this?

– Certifications (and perhaps uni degree) are a way of distinguishing yourself.  Like it or not, when someone is looking over a CV the more credentials (relevant of course) you have the more likely you are to into the “interview” pile.  This does not necessarily equate to getting the job as I think there is much more to a good employee that being able to study and pass exams.

– Professionalism – holy grail or a waste of time?  I’ve been a long time supporter of the ACS but recently I have taken a step back and am re-evaluating whether professionalism in the IT sector is ever going to work or provide value.  I think the ACS should spend more time/money on building resources for members than focussing on this holy grail of professionalism. 

– Tertiary education – not for everyone, but those who don’t have it typically devalue it.  The whole concept of a university degree is that it is designed to encourage thinking.  In fact degrees are really a precursor to going into research.  In the IT space, a large proportion of people should NOT get a university degree as they are really looking for a vocational education – ie how to get a job in IT.  There are other forms of Tertiary education that are much better suited to this than university.  This in no way should exclude them from ACS membership!

– ACS needs to grow to have more voice with government but also to provide more benefits to members. Cyclic argument since the only way to grow is to demonstrate returns to members. 

– Aging membership – recently this has been reversed with the YIT program but still a major issue both from public perspective and internally via the decision makers

– New technology to support learning – most universities do this poorly. In fact the best ones to embrace technology are those supporting remote learning.

Some new thoughts

The Computer Professional Program, formerly the certification program, is one of the activities that the PD Board is involved with.  Reading the propaganda that is on the website I’m immediately hit with the following questions
– Who is on the Advisory Committee?
– Who is on the Academic Board? – note that some of these positions are vacant!
– Who are the mentors/tutors and what are their backgrounds?
– What technology is being used to support Group Forums/Cohorts?  In fact, how is the material for the course presented – ring binder, word document, powerpoint….
– Why would I study through the CP Program rather than a post graduate degree from a reputable university or another industry group?  This is a significant point and one that the ACS continues to fail on.

ACS Marketing is still the worse I have ever see, primarily because it is so out of touch with the IT industry and the mechanisms for communicating to the Digital Natives.  For example:
– The website still doesn’t support IE7 properly (haven’t tried Firefox)
– No RSS feed support on the website – it is no wonder that people struggle to find or attend meetings
– No ACS Member blogs – what is the ACS up to and why can’t I see what interesting things other members are up to.  Even a public list of which members (such as myself, Rob and Mitch) write their own blogs

As you can tell from this post my time here in New Zealand has in no way improved my opinion of the Australian Computer Society.  In fact I would go so far as to say that there is a lot of work that needs to be done but as with all volunteer organisations there are not enough Indians to get everything done.  I feel that a change of priorities is needed and that this needs to come from the Digital Natives

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