I’ve been somewhat quiet for the last month or so, for a definition of
somewhat that scales up to
utterly and completely. But, I have a very good reason!
I have a new job.
Today was my first day as a full-time instructor for Full Sail University, where I soon will be teaching two courses for the Web Design and Development BS degree: Advanced Server-Side Languages and Advanced Database Structures.
I should take a moment and explain that Full Sail isn’t on the normal Fall/Spring/Summer semester schedule, nor do they follow the willy-nillyfigure out your own scheduleapproach of a public university. Instead, each degree program has a specific schedule of courses that are taken in a specific order. Courses are 4 weeks long, and are taken in pairs: there’s a Monday-Wednesday-Friday course and a Tuesday-Thursday course. Class days are broken into a 4-hour lecture followed by a 4-hour lab. The students are then spending 8 hours per day, 5 days per week, sitting in the classroom—just like a regular job. The Web Design and Development BS is a 21-month program.
Full Sail is focused primarily on multimedia and digital entertainment, and the Web Design and Development degree is new within the last year. The degree program focuses heavily on the Apple+Adobe stack, with courses in Flash, ActionScript, and design courses that leverage the entire CS4 suite. (Yes, that means I’m typing this on my brand new MacBook Pro. Someone check the temperature in Hell.)
The Advanced Server-Side Languages course is ColdFusion-centric, and is the follow-up to the intro course which focuses on PHP. The Advanced Database Structures course will focus on scaling databases vertically and horizontally, and tackling common real-world industry challenges.
The nice part is that the two intro-level courses are taught simultaneously in one month, then the two advanced-level courses (mine) are taught simultaneously the next month. I think this is going to offer me the ability to really dig in and teach development how it really is in the workplace, not as some abstract concept that the students won’t be able to apply.
I’ve done a bit of poking around, and there are other colleges and universities offering ColdFusion courses but there aren’t many. Historically, Full Sail has been very good at producing creative, front-end graphical designers, but not as good at producing technical, back-end developers. Full Sail’s goal in creating this new BS program coincides with my goal in taking this position, teaching two of the most technically-advanced courses in the program: to produce graduates that could be hired in the industry not just as creative-types with a little technical knowledge, but also as technical-types with a little creative knowledge.
There’s no shortage of demand for ColdFusion devlopers in the Orlando area, and I’d like to help produce graduates that I feel could competently fill that demand. The short program length (21 months) and my position in the program (month 15) mean that our students shouldn’t suffer the skill-rot that you get from a 4-year program.
My goal for the next month is to go over the existing curriculum and see if it needs to be tweaked, and how I can spin it to my personal strengths as an instructor. I haven’t worked out all the details with the school yet, but I hope that I’ll be able to solicit feedback from you, the ColdFusion and DB communities, on what general concepts and specific skills you need in fresh graduates. Knowing how active the ColdFusion community is, it seems like there’s a real opportunity to sort of dogfood our own program—feeding industry demand right back into the program to produce better graduates.