OEDB and Trends in the IT Field

I was recently contacted by Xavier Gray and his colleagues, whom requested that I write a bit about their online website (I wouldn’t truly call it a database, it’s more akin to a career/education guide). The website in question is OEDB.org, which stands for the Online Education Database.

If you’re looking for information about online schools, the OEDB is one resource to examine. It completely missed Drexel University, which is one of the top-ranked information systems programs in the USA currently, and includes a fair number of smaller Christian/sectarian schools, but I’m not worried about the lack of focus. As with all graduate school and college/university resources, you have to evaluate whom the target audience is. With the OEDB, I assume they are targeting people thinking about returning to school after a haitus, or perhaps somebody whom cannot otherwise attend a university.

To their credit, the designers of the OEDB have included the graduation rates, employment rates, and retention rates for a fair number of their listed/ranked institutions. While I’m not sure what methodology they use in determining rankings, the fact that the OEDB staff have wrangled these pieces out of the school administration is a success. I’m all for academic transparency, and think that it speaks well of an institution when they’re public with their data.

That caveat been made clear, a majority of schools are listing graduation rates below 40%. Why would you attend college at all if you’re going to not finish? The time and effort may be best spent involving yourself with something like EdX or Coursera, especially given the IT trends for greater needs and fewer graduates in the technical disciplines. Seeing the graduation percentages is frankly depressing.

Unless we can turn ourselves around as a country, we’re going to end up needing to import ever-growing segments of our IT labor, with the concurrent devaluing of skill levels and global marketability – with the research showing that H-1 labor is no more skilled than US college grads overall, there will continue to be a lack of talent in the field that process automation cannot overcome rapidly enough.

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