TUG Night School Matches Enthusiasm with Capability
November 7, 2011 Dan Burger
At the end of another grind-it-out day in the IT department, several of the RPG programmers were having a conversation. One mentioned that he had to go to school that evening and he wasn’t really looking forward to it.
The others, sensing an opportunity to give him a hard time, asked why he dreaded going to school.
“Well, I’m tired and I’d much rather go home and crash,” the nearly truant night school student said.
“Those aren’t good reasons,” the others shot back.
“So why don’t you guys give me some good reasons why I should go?” the first guy says.
One of the readily observant guys in the group had a quick answer.
“Well, for one, you’re 52 years old. For another, you’re still coding in RPG III. And for another, you don’t know the difference between an AS/400 and a Power i server.”
OK. That’s just a joke. But having skills that are out of date isn’t a joke. It’s like using a rock to pound nails. Without the right tools, you’re at a disadvantage. And that can cost you.
Up in Toronto, Canada, the local IBM i user group has found some success though its affiliation with a local community college and a night school program that’s designed for folks who are eager to expand their skills. IT Jungle reported on this in February. It’s good to know the program is still alive and doing well.
In an email exchange last week with Mark Buchner, the executive director at the Toronto User Group, the value of the program was discussed in terms of attendance, feedback, revenue and leverage. The TUG board of directors reviewed the night school goals and objectives from the standpoint of the user group as well as from the perspective of its partner Seneca College. The college provides a “loaded” technical lab room that seats 35 students, which is available Monday and Wednesday evenings.
Another track concentrates on an iSeries-specific category of classes. Claus Weiss’ RPG Web Services continues to be offered. Seneca College professor Russ Pangborn is instructing an SQL on IBM i class that uses labs and lectures from his college curriculum. A PHP native on IBM i class is being taught by Buchner and Ross Howatson. Another new class addition this fall will focus on IBM Director and be taught by IBM‘s Garry Kipfer.
Buchner says input from TUG members during meetings factored into the class selection process, but he also noted the participation of student groups at Seneca College where Buchner runs a program that places students with a client to design a software system using Rational/UML.
User group feedback and the local demand from companies looking for student assistance for specific projects requiring specific skills led to a curriculum focused on the Web, mobile applications, and modernization.
The TUG Night School classes are spread out between November 14 and April 30. They vary in length from one day to four days. A list of the classes and the days they are scheduled can be found at the TUG Night School blog site or on the TUG website.