Last fall, I went back to night school to teach. The teaching position for "CIS255: Introduction to Database Systems" was open at a small liberal arts school, and it looked like a good opportunity to see how data administration was being taught today. (My computer science degree was earned before relational databases became widely used and included only a "[flat] File Structures" course. Data management was definitely not on the syllabus.)
I was pleasantly surprised by what I found. The poorly named text devoted a full five chapters to data design and included conceptual and logical, as well as physical, modeling. Although a few students were honest enough to admit that their reason for taking the class was to pass so they could obtain their degrees, most were developers or business users who had seen the effects of bad data design and expected to apply what they learned to their day jobs. I was glad to see that a class focused on data management topics had achieved "required" status.
The number of academic classes focused on our profession has grown steadily over the past few years. Approximately five years ago, I took data management classes online from the University of Washington because it was practically the only program I could find in the data space. Today, the "Academic Programs" page on www.dama.org reveals more than 100 different programs around the world.
DAMA International (DAMA-I) is looking to take advantage of this growth by building closer ties with the academic world as follows:
- Chapter meetings offer the continuing education and peer support that is crucial to staying up to date for both students (many of whom already have jobs in the industry) and teaching staff. Most chapters offer free or reduced memberships for students.
- DAMA-I is working through its Foundation (DAMA-F) to create a curriculum framework that institutions of higher education can utilize in developing solid data management educational programs.
- A new academic track is being added to the upcoming DAMA Symposium in Orlando. Faculty members will share their personal research through the academic process and give suggestions on resources, areas of study and potential partnerships with the professional world. The panel reporting on research crossover represents an increasing focus of DAMA-I on education and training and promoting the profession.
- The maturing of data management as a profession is supported by the DAMA-F initiative to create and maintain a vigorous data management body of knowledge (DMBOK).
As the class I was teaching ended in December, I realized that I had learned a few things. I had learned that an exam evaluates the teacher's ability as much as it evaluates the students' understanding; that it's easier to create fifth-normal form than it is to describe it; and that where I once saw the ivory towers of academia, I now see professional peers.
Please let me know what success you or your DAMA chapter are having on bridging this gap. You can reach me at email@example.com. For information on the DAMA-I and DAMA-F initiatives in education, please contact Deborah Henderson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
DAMA CHAPTER LISTING
This is the list of DAMA international chapters. For details, visit our Web site: www.dama.org.
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