Computer science education: The ‘why’ and ‘how’
eSchool News October 30, 2013
Advocates say computer science education is fun–and essential
Calls for more integrated computer science education have increased in recent years as studies show that computer science degrees lead to high-paying jobs that help boost the economy.
Computer science, which includes programming and coding, is the highest-paid college degree and jobs in the field are growing at twice the national average, according to Code.org, but fewer than 2.4 percent of college students graduate with computer science degrees.
Some states are working to change that. In May, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signed a bill that counts Advanced Placement (AP) computer science as a math or science credit. The course previously counted as an elective, meaning that many students passed it over for other courses that would meet graduation requirements.
Forty of 50 states do not count computer science toward math or science requirements for high school graduation, and only 1 in 10 schools offer computer programming classes. That could change, though, if more states make efforts similar to those in Washington.
Recent data indicate that only 35 of the state’s 622 high schools offer AP computer science.
According to data collected by the New Jersey Institute of Technology, 150,000 new computing jobs will need to be filled each year for the next 10 years.
Software engineering jobs are expected to grow by 30 percent by 2020, computer and information systems jobs by 18 percent, database administration jobs by 31 percent, and computing programming jobs by 12 percent.
By that time, 2020, there will be 1.4 million computing jobs and 400,000 computer science students–a shortage of 1 million, and a lost economic potential of $500 million.
By 2018, there will be almost three times as many job openings that require computer science knowledge as there will be qualified applicants. Employers said they struggle finding enough applicants with technical knowledge required for computer-related positions.
Students’ lack of interest in this subject doesn’t begin when they get to college, however–it starts much earlier, and experts say that the sooner students develop an interest in and a love for computer science, the better.
Fewer than 1/4 of students are able to enroll in rigorous computer science courses. In fact, 2011 data show that fewer and fewer high schools are offering AP computer science tests: only 2,100 in 2011–a 25 percent decrease from five years ago. When students do take the AP test, those tests account for just .69 percent of all high school AP tests.
Other nations are boosting computer science education. Scotland revised its school curriculum and places a major focus on computer science. In South Korea, many middle and high schools teach introductory computer science, and the subject will be a major part of a proposed new curriculum. Israel initiated an intense review of school computing courses and now has one of the most rigorous high school computer science programs in the world. In the past seven years, India has tripled the number of bachelor-equivalent degrees conferred.
Experts say that helping students develop and sustain an interest in computer science through in- and after-school activities could help students take that interest with them to college and the workforce. Ensuring that students have the opportunity to explore computer science and move past traditional stereotypes opens the field up to many more.
[Posted 8 October 2013 by Kathy Yale]
Passing CompTIA’s A+ certification can be an important key to finding a great job as a computer service technician or information technology (IT) specialist. Read on to find out more about how A+ certification lays the groundwork for a career in computer technology and how the right examination materials can help you prepare for taking this important examination.
Why Is The A+ Certification So Widely Recognized?
The A+ certification examination was among the first computer certifications offered by CompTIA. The examination has been updated several times since being launched in 1993. The most recent update occurred on August 31, 2013, and includes the latest information on such advanced topics as wireless networking, mobile devices, computer security and the newest software on the market. When the test was first administered, the passing rate was less than 10 percent. Performing the amount of study required to achieve A+ certification set an individual apart as a high performer in the field of computer technology. Today the passing rate for each test has increased to around 20 percent, but doing the work necessary to pass is still a true accomplishment for any computer expert.
How Is The A+ Examination Structured?
The newest version of the A+ examination consists of two parts, 220-801 and 220-802. Each portion of the test consists of 90 questions and the test-taker has 90 minutes to complete each module. Section 220-801 covers the most basic aspects of computer installation, PC configuration and networking. Section 220-802 includes, among other topics, troubleshooting, problem solving, advanced configuration and mobile devices. The test is made up of both multiple-choice questions and performance-based problems administered using realistic computer simulations that replicate the actual conditions under which computer technician’s work. The test is given at supervised testing centers around the world.
Do All Employers Require A+ Certification?
Very few employers specifically require A+ certification of all computer technicians. Computer manufacturers Dell, Intel and Lenovo do require A+ certification for all computer service technicians, and several government agencies also recognize and favor applicants who have achieved A+ certification. As with many occupations, even though a certification is not required, many employers who hire computer technicians look for specially trained applicants who have demonstrated an ability to perform the work for which they are being hired.
How Do I Prepare For The A+ Examination?
The CompTIA A+ certification examination is designed to test the basic computer knowledge acquired through several hundred hours of on-the-job training. For individuals with little or no hands-on experience, a formal course of study is highly recommended. Total Seminars is your online source for study materials for the A+ examination, as well as several other CompTIA certification examinations. Total Seminars provides an all-in-one guide to the A+ examination, as well as practice test packages that include samples of questions that are similar to those found on the actual examination. Training materials are available in book and video form. Test vouchers can also be purchased through Total Seminars individually or as part of a package of study materials.
Spending the time and effort to study and pass the A+ examination can pay off in many ways. Demonstrating the skills and knowledge necessary to work as a computer service technician or IT expert is attractive to many employers and may open the door to career advancement and higher income. Contact Total Seminars today for a full listing of A+ examination study products to get started on the road to a successful, lucrative career in computer technology.
[Posted 19 September 2013 by Kathy Yale]
Taking the Network+ exam can be a stressful experience. However, there is a way for any test taker to make sure that they are prepared for the test. Studying beforehand is helpful, but even more helpful is taking the practice exam. A Network+ practice test is the best to see how questions on the test are framed and to see how the test itself is laid out. The test taker must also determine what to take away from the practice exam.
Have a Better Knowledge of the Questions that Will be Asked
As with all tests, there are some questions on the Network+ practice test that make it onto the real exam. However, no one can properly predict what will be on a test, and that means the layout and formatting of the questions becomes very important. Knowing what types of questions to expect will help the test taker to adequately prepare to take the test. Instead of solely studying the content, time spent expressing that content in the forms of the questions asked on the practice exam can be especially helpful.
Be Prepared for Different Types of Questions.
Many times, there are two answers that are seemingly identical, and it is the test taker’s job to discern between the two. This can only happen effectively if they have taken the practice exam and learned the language and style in which the questions will be asked.
Free response questions require the ability of the test taker to express what it is that they know in their own writing. Without this ability, it is very hard for the test taker to convey their personal knowledge to the exam scorer. Having practice in writing out the answers to these types of questions will make test takers more effective at answering the questions quickly and thoroughly.
True/false test items are tricky because they can use double speak in order to confuse test takers. It is very easy to be confused when reading these types of questions if test takers are not prepared for them.
Finish the Test with Time to Spare
Beyond studying the content and the types of questions on the test, it is wise for the test taker to consider how long they have to take the test and how long it actually took them to take the test. Some people may test slower than others, and if there is a hint of a timing issue, that needs to be addressed. Those who take the practice exam will find out if they are able to complete the questions in the time allotted and can practice becoming efficient if time is an issue.
The person taking the test needs to know if they are prepared to take a test, in the Network+ format, in the time that is given them. The only way to receive ample preparation is to study and take the practice exam. The practice test may make the difference between passing and not passing when it comes time to take the Network+ test.
[Posted 29 August 2013 by Kathy Yale]
Total Seminars is the ideal purveyor of study materials for the Network+ certification exam. The Network+ certification is vendor-neutral and it is recognized internationally. When you pass the Network+ exam and receive your certification, potential employers know that you have the skills necessary for basic network infrastructures, such as configuring, installing, maintaining and troubleshooting.
Why should I be Network+ certified?
It is crucial for all networking professionals to successfully complete the Network+ certification exam because it shows proficiency in essential areas, including installation and configuration, networking, technologies, media and topology, management, and security. By completing the Network+ certification test, you’re qualified for IT jobs like cable installer, certified computer technician, and network administrator. Dell, HP and Xerox are among the many major companies that require their technicians to be Network+ certified. In short, anyone who wants to work in networking needs to be Network+ certified.
How do I study for the Network+ certification?
Practice tests are the best way to study for the Network+ certification exam because they give you a chance to review the information and the complete practice questions similar to what will be asked on the actual exams. Total Seminars is your top choice for practice exams and other materials for studying for the certification exam.
How does Total Seminars help me study for the Network+ certification?
The Total Tester includes hundreds of different questions, ensuring that you will encounter all of the material that might possibly show up on the actual exam. If you’re having trouble with a question, the program can provide hints that will help you reach the right answer. If you absolutely have no idea about the correct answer, the program will provide it. Further, instead of just giving you the answer and moving on to the next question, the program will explain why that answer is correct and provide you with a reference to the study materials so that you can study and review the relevant information.
How do I practice the material using Total Seminars?
Total Seminars has several easy-to-follow steps that will help you prepare for your Network+ exam. First, you can take an exam in Practice Mode; and then you can review any study materials or explanations that are referenced in that mode. The Detailed Exam Results show you the learning objects that you need to review. You can continue to review the explanations for each question that appear on the practice exam. Then, you can take the practice test in Exam Simulation Mode. Afterwards, the Detailed Exam Results from the Exam Simulation Mode will also provide information about areas that you need to review.
Can I customize my practice exams?
Absolutely! Total Seminars offers many different ways for you to prepare. You can customize tests by chapter content, topic objective, number of questions and exam duration. You can also take a full-length exam that includes all of the questions in the pools. You can take a practice version of an entire exam, or you can focus exclusively on the material that is most difficult for you. All of the practice exams are graded by topic, which helps you identify the specific information that you need to study further.
Total Seminars provide test takers with the essential tools they need in order to successfully pass the Network+ exam. Contact Total Seminars today in order to get started.
[Posted 26 June 2013 by Kathy Yale]
The Network+ certification exam is critical for any networking professional, because it examines crucial knowledge bases such as networking, technologies, installation and configuration, media and topologies, management, and security using multiple-choice and performance-based questions. Successful completion of the Network+ test qualifies you for IT jobs such as network administrator, help desk technician, installer, certified computer technician, and IT cable installer. Many major companies, including Dell, HP, and Xerox, as well as the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security, require their technicians to receive Network+ exam certification. This is why it is critical to take the Network+ practice test to ensure you are properly prepared to pass the exam.
Passing the Network+ test and receiving your certification shows that you can competently install, configure, maintain, and troubleshoot basic network infrastructure. The Network+ certification is vendor-neutral and internationally-recognized, and being Network+ certified proves that you are knowledgeable about networking features and functions, wiring standards, and testing tools. The Network+ practice test will provide you with the necessary tools to understand the actual exam.
Since the Network+ exam is so important for technicians to have, proper exam preparation is essential for passing the exam. Practice tests are the best way to prepare for the Network+ certification exam. Total Seminars offers certification studying materials for the Network+ certification exam. Here are some reasons why you can rely on Total Seminars for the best possible preparation for the Network+ certification exam.
Customizable Exam Approaches
With Total Seminars, you can simulate an entire actual exam, or you can simply focus on material that you need to review and study. The Total Tester lets you customize your tests by chapter content, objective, number of questions, and duration of the exam, or you can try a full-length exam using all the questions in the pools.
Variety of Questions and Tips
The Total Tester contains hundreds of different questions, so you’re sure to cover all of the material that could possibly appear on the real exam. If you get stuck, the program, can offer hints to help you reach the right answer. If you’re absolutely stumped, the program will give you the correct answer. Instead of just supplying the right answer, though, you get an explanation of the correct answer and a reference to the study materials to help you review the information. All of the practice test results are graded by topic, which makes it easy to identify where you need to review.
Easy Steps to Follow
The Total Seminar practice exam offers several steps that are easy to follow when preparing for your exam. Take the exam in Practice Mode, and review the study materials and explanations that are referenced. The Detailed Exam Results will help you identify the learning objectives that you need to review. If your knowledge is weak in one or more of these areas, study those thoroughly and keep reviewing the explanations for each question on the practice exam. Then, take the practice text in Exam Simulation Mode. The Detailed Exam Results from the Exam Simulation Mode will also identify weak areas of your knowledge. Always review the questions that you answered incorrectly.
If you score 90 percent or higher on two Exam Simulation Mode exams prior to sitting for the Network+ certification exam and if you still don’t pass the certification exam, you may be eligible to claim the guarantee.
Maximum PC just posted an article about Razor’s new positional-audio system. Razor claims that you can transform stereo headphones into 7.1 positional audio. And they’re so convinced of the awesomeness of the new system that they’re making it available for free through the end of 2013. Here’s the link to the full article:
Holding an up-to-date A+ Certification is vital to modern-day IT technicians. The computer era was once driven by seat-of-the-pants self-taught IT groundbreakers. However, technology began to advance at an almost incomprehensible pace. The early age of computer programming and repair vanished beneath a demand for organized methods of training. Company employed technicians struggled to keep pace, and something had to give.
The roots of the change began in 1982 when five major vendors created the Association of Better Computer Dealers (ABCD). The group came together under a single goal: Find the means for enhanced IT services for vendors and consumers.
In 1993, a revolutionary change healed the riff. It came about through the hands of suggestions and actions of CompTIA, a renamed and expanded version of the ABCD.
Prior to the significant A+ Certification programs introduced by CompTIA, IT educational documentations were company related and company regulated. Most major manufacturers including IBM and Dell required prospective employees to participate in precision training programs specific to their brand name. Corporations that had shaped an IT department around the skills of self-taught individuals remained outside the loop. They were vulnerable to the introduction of new technologies that may have reached beyond the scope of their self-taught IT employees.
Strategies introduced through the 1993 CompTIA certification programs leveled the technical playing field. The vendor-neutral CompTIA training programs ensured every company of graduates that were competent in a broad range of computer operating systems, skills and technologies.
Changes Along the Way and for Today
Unless specifically studying old forms of production, repair or creation, no training program can linger in the past. Since 1993, the CompTIA exam has undergone various major changes. For example:
- 2003 introduced a division of the process that separated hardware exams from software exams
- 2007 heralded in the prestige of accreditation from the American National Standards Institute
- 2009 presented new challenges due to a demand for technicians with the skills for adapting to real world IT complications
To remain relevant with current needs in the IT industry, CompTIA continues to update the specs of the program. Employers expect prospective IT administrators and computer repair techs to maintain an ongoing education. Keeping up to date is easier now than it was in the pre-1993 days, but it still requires dedication to education.
2012 A+ Certification exam updates include the following changes and more:
- Disposal of Windows 2000
- In-depth SOHO security
- Handling mobile devices and wireless network connections
- Full support for the Windows 7 OS.
(Note that August 31, 2013 is earmarked for retirement of exams 220-701 and 220-702.)
Graduate job opportunities are not limited to computer manufacturers and corporate environments. For example: According to USAJOBS Working For American, basic requirements for a recent Federal Bureau of Investigation job posting for a Forensic Examiner included A+ Certification for personal computer hardware services and others.
Certified technicians can expect to receive a 5 to 15 percent income increase over employees who lack the documentation. Currently, documented educational evidence remains a preferred method of entry into the IT field. Now is a good time for you to open your windows to opportunity.
The A+ Certification was created by a non-profit, vendor-neutral organization called CompTIA. This certification tests one’s competency as a computer technician, primarily focusing on the Windows operating system, however, questions regarding the Apple and Android operating systems have been added in recent years. The A+ test is a natural gateway toward other CompTIA certifications, although it is not required. Earning this certification is typically necessary to be considered for an entry-level IT position. The A+ Certification tests a broad range of topics and is divided into two parts.
The first part of the A+ Certification tests knowledge of networking, assembling, and configuring PCs, laptops, and related hardware, and the fundamentals of computer technology.
The second part of the test determines if the applicant is capable of installing and configuring operating systems and configuring standard features such as email, printers, scanners, etc. The exam also covers configuring standard settings such as email and networking on mobile operating systems such as the Android or Apple iOS.
Jobs that require the A+ Certification
According to CompTIA, an A+ Certification is a standard requirement for those seeking employment in positions such as technical support specialist, field service technician, and IT support technician, administrator, or specialist. It shows employers that the applicant has a solid understanding of assembling computers, configuring software, operating systems, and hardware. Government IT jobs usually have stricter requirements regarding certificates and education than the public sector, which only adds to the value that an A+ certification can provide.
How Much Value Does the A+ Certification Provide?
A recent survey conducted by Certification Magazine states that the average salary of someone that holds an A+ Certification is about $65K. This figure includes many people who have worked their way up from an entry-level position and have years of experience; someone just starting off should expect to make somewhere around half of that. The A+ Certification is also a starting point to numerous other certifications offered by CompTIA that can lead to an increase in earning power.
The A+ Certification by itself may not be enough to secure employment. Employers will often want to see experience and other educational credentials on an applicant’s resume. However, the certification can mean the difference between whether an applicant is even called in for an interview. Many employers will screen résumés looking for people with particular certificates. As previously mentioned, government jobs place a high emphasis on their employees being certified.
The A+ Certification exam is a 90-minute test and requires a score of 75% to pass. It tests basic computer understanding, regarding hardware and software, which means that it will show employers that you have a good understanding of basic computer skills. The A+ Certifications used to be good for life once an applicant passed and received the certification. As of January 2010, CompTIA made a change and added a 3-year expiration policy on A+, Network+, and Security+ certifications. Certificate holders are required to retest every 3 years. Technology is rapidly changing and it is necessary to ensure that one’s knowledge remains current, which is the purpose of requiring retesting. If one holds more than one certificate, they are only required to retest for the highest level certificate held.
CompTIA’s Network+ certification covers the basics of routing and switching without emphasis on any particular product lines. A Network+ certification shows that an IT professional has the knowledge that is necessary for a position as a network administrator or network engineer. It’s important for many positions, because it shows prospective employers that the IT professional has working knowledge and not just an education. Because many schools don’t emphasize practical knowledge and instead focus on higher level concepts, this can be very important.
The Importance of Network+ Certification
Network+ certification in particular is requested by many employers as a general test of skills. Specifically, government and military contracts tend to request Network+ certification above other types of certification. This is because Network+ certification is vendor neutral, which means that it applies to all types of systems. Cisco certification only applies to Cisco technology, and Microsoft certification is similar. A technician with Network+ certification will therefore have a more diverse set of knowledge and be able to work with varying systems. Because the government and military have very rigid standards, those without the required certifications may not be considered for hire.
Even private enterprises often require either a Network+ or Cisco certification. While some companies may ask for Cisco certification specifically, many companies are willing to take other similar certifications such as Network+. Network+ also prepares a potential IT professional to gain other certifications such as the Cisco Certified Network Associate certification, which is often considered more rigorous than Network+.
Preparing For Network+ Certification
There are many ways to prepare for the CompTIA Network+ certification, including live classes, textbooks, videos, and online lessons. Which method is best for the test taker depends on the way the test taker learns best, but many people who are going for certifications find that it’s easier to learn when using multiple methods at once, such as a textbook and a video course. Practice tests are also available for the Network+ certification and many find them very valuable, especially those who have been out of school for a while and are no longer accustomed to taking tests.
The Network+ certification does test entry-level knowledge, which means that it’s easier for people to take when they have had a year or more of experience with networking. Any hands on experience with a live network should help an IT professional with their Network+ certification.
What Comes After CompTIA Network+ Certification
After achieving their Network+ certification an IT professional has a lot of options to continue their certification paths. Network+ certification can be followed by Cisco networking certifications for those who want to focus primarily on network engineering and administration. Those who want to branch out to other areas of the IT industry can consider getting certificates like Server+ for server administration, or Security+ to specialize in computer securities. Security+ in particular is very useful for those who want to claim military or other government contracts because it’s a prerequisite for many of them.
CompTIA certification needs to be renewed every 3 years, so those who are CompTIA certified will have to keep this in mind if they want to remain certified. Certification doesn’t cost the full amount of the tests, and it needs to be done if the certifications are to remain valid. Many employers will pay for their IT professionals to receive and keep their certifications, and there are also many discounted test vouchers available through websites and vendors.
[Posted 18 Apr 2013 by Kathy Yale]
The Role of Certifications in the IT Industry
While education is of primary importance to IT professionals, certifications also play an important role for both employees and employers. Employers prefer to see prospective employees with certifications because this validates that they have the skills necessary to do the job, and they know how to use these skills. For employees, it allows them to test themselves on industry standards and to compare themselves with other professionals in the business. Many jobs on the market today require specific certifications to even be considered. Government and military jobs specifically put a high premium on these certifications, with one of the most notably being the A+ Certification.
The CompTIA A+ Certification
This CompTIA certification is geared to the maintenance of desktop computers, laptops, mobile devices, and printers. This means that the A+ certification is valuable for anyone who is interested in the user-support aspect of computer technology. Many large corporations require that their technicians have A+ certification for precisely this reason. While the CompTIA A+ certification focuses on general technology, the emphasis is more on PC computers running Windows systems than Apple operating systems or Linux operating systems.
The CompTIA A+ certification is an entry-level certification for IT professionals with about a year of experience in the field. However, that does not mean it’s not a valuable certification for those with more experience. Because many government jobs require it as a prerequisite, it can be absolutely necessary for someone, even with years of experience, to get this certification simply to qualify. Because the certification is geared toward entry-level technicians, it should be easy for a more experienced technician to pass.
While CompTIA certifications used to be lifetime certifications, this has changed in recent years. CompTIA certifications now expire within three years, which means that professionals that wish to keep these certifications need to re-certify every few years. This re-certification costs only a fraction of the original exam and can still be highly beneficial.
The Difference between CompTIA and Other Certifications
CompTIA, Microsoft, and Cisco form the three main certificate vendors in the IT industry. CompTIA is different from the other certificate agencies because it is vendor neutral. Microsoft certifications only test the IT professional in Microsoft products, and Cisco only tests the IT professional in Cisco products. While Microsoft and Cisco products do make up the majority of the infrastructure for many companies, prospective employers want to see that employees have a diverse skill set and an understanding of the basics.
Because CompTIA is such a general certification it has become the certification of choice for military and government contracts. However, for networking in private industries, Cisco certifications are still considered more important. Because Cisco certification is more in depth than CompTIA certification, many IT professionals get their CompTIA certification first and then later move on to the Cisco certification path.
After the CompTIA A+ Certification
After taking the CompTIA A+ certification, many IT professionals progress to either Network+ or Server+ certifications. These certifications are more advanced than the A+ certification and can demand higher salaries. Those who have successfully completed A+ certification may also advance to Microsoft’s MCSA certification or Cisco’s CCNA certification paths. Because CompTIA only offers entry-level certifications, professionals that are more experienced may find it necessary to continue with other vendors.
Which certifications an IT professional chooses depends on the trajectory they want their career to take. Those who are interested in server administration can move from A+ to Server+ or from A+ to MCSA. For those who are interested in desktop support and troubleshooting, an A+ will usually be enough. IT professionals who want to focus on networking can move from A+ to Network+, and finally to their CCNA, though Network+ alone is often enough to secure a solid entry-level position.