The Necessity of a Continuing Education in IT


IT Education

In Information Technology (IT), it’s important to keep your education up to date. Things are always changing and it is important to stay abreast of those changes. This is true in many other fields true but IT changes more rapidly than most, and hackers will make it essential to stay current. You always want to know the latest available technology and software to be able to do the best possible job. In addition, security concerns mean that it is essential to stay up to date so it is possible to combat the latest hacks, viruses and phishing exploits that are going around.

Software Updates

First, most of the software is being constantly updated. Software may be on a constant update cycle, or they can be on a yearly or bi-yearly update cycle. Some, like operating systems may do several updates during a life cycle and then cycle to a new system every few years. Many of the apps we use every day are updated very frequently. At any rate, almost all software is on some kind of upgrade cycle. It is all in a constant state of flux. In response to these changes and advances in technology and knowledge, a continuing education in IT becomes more and more necessary.

Security

Security is also a driving force for the need for continued education. Hackers are always figuring out new holes into systems. This means those holes are constantly being plugged by updates put out for just that reason. New versions of CMSs come out to fix the problems with the previous version of the CMS along with trying to make things easier and better for the customers. The newer CMSs are much more responsive than they were just a couple of years ago. They are also much easier to upgrade than they used to be.

Programming Standards and Languages

Next, are new programming standards and languages. Programming languages also keep improving and coming out with newer versions or replacements. HTML goes to HTML 5. CSS goes to CSS 3. Javascript led to jQuery and so on. There are also more useful programming languages out there than most know how to use. Learning another is very rarely wasted effort. Perl, Ruby on Rails, Python, C++, HTML 5, PHP, SQL, JavaScript, jQuery, ASP, XML, Ajax and Visual Basic are just a few of the main ones. Then there are the newer languages. Google Go, Apple’s Swift, Facebook’s Hack are among the new languages that are gaining a lot of attention and use. There are also Rust, Julia, Scala and Dart. Then there are older languages like Erlang which have garnered quite a following. There is CoffeeScript, Ocaml and Haskell. There are always more useful languages to learn and use.

Go was launched in 2009 and was created to be simple and dynamic. It is also open source. It is derived from Java and C and its creators say: “Go is an attempt to combine the ease of programming of an interpreted, dynamically typed language with the efficiency and safety of a statically typed, compiled language.” It is a clean, simple language for manipulating data but does not have many extra features.

Apple created Swift and revealed it at the WWDC conference in 2014. They wanted a replacement for Objective-C for OSX and iOS development. It is also open source. With its much cleaner syntax and lower use of pointer it has been growing very rapidly. Facebook’s Hack was also released in 2014. Facebook has already replaced most of their PHP code with Hack. They have also released an open source version.

The above mentioned CoffeScript is not so much a language as a preprocessor for javascript. It makes shorthand without all the semi-colons and brackets and turns it back into javascript. Similarly there is Less.js which makes it easier to make elaborate CSS and also adds some useful functionality like mixins and nested rules. Then there are all the CSS frameworks like Bootstrap, Foundation, Skeleton, Gumby and many others. Bootstrap has been built into many CMSs at this point. It is very popular and used widely. The main use for these lately has been for the increased responsiveness they provide.

Resources to Continue Your Education

All of these are just a few examples of how things in IT are constantly changing. Being very well informed this year does not mean that it will be the same next year without extra education. Just in the last couple of years responsive design has taken over the Internet. It has been around for a few years but it is now thought of as much more important than it was a couple of years ago. Google now penalizes sites that are not responsive. Responsive design is an area that has vastly increased in importance in the last couple of years. It is now very important to have at least an understanding of Responsive Design if not a working knowledge of how to go about using it and how it needs to be implemented to make a site work responsively.

There are lots of classes and resources on the Internet to enable a continuing education. There are certificates to learn different areas and demonstrate mastery of a subject. W3 Schools alone has certificates available for, HTML, HTML 5, CSS, JavaScript, jQuery, PHP, Bootstrap and XML. Microsoft has an extensive certification program. You can earn certificates for mastering several different versions of Windows, several different server certifications, applications certificates, database certificates and a lot of developer certifications. There are many others offering certification programs.

Also, many colleges and universities have online classes that are available. Some are free of charge and may or may not credit. Other may be charged for but will offer college credit and help work toward a degree. It all depends on what you want to do and what you want out of it. You may want to get a higher degree or simply stay current on new trends. The choice is up to each person.

A continuing education in IT is essential for anyone wishing to stay abreast of developments. It is absolutely necessary in order to do good work in the field and stay up to date with changes and progress in software and hardware. These have been just a couple of reasons why that it so and there are very many others that are just as valid and worthy of consideration.

– Robert Hunt, Systems Administrator