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The total number of Master degree and Graduate Certificate enrolments since Charles Sturt University and IT Masters launched our first qualification in 2003.

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The total number of enrolments in our free short courses that we offer as a ‘taster’ of what it is like to study via Distance Education with Charles Sturt University.

ITM Insight

New Objectives and Professional Communication
24 April 2014

IT Masters Session 1 Newsletter

2014 has seen some big changes with a significant redesign of CSU’s IT Masters degrees. This has resulted in a significant improvement to student outcomes upon completion of newly redesigned subjects. One example is:

Subject: ITE513 Forensic Investigation – pre 2014 objectives

  • be able to summarize the History of Forensics
  • be able to explain the importance of securing computer evidence
  • be able to define Electronic Evidence
  • be able to List down the equipment required in a Forensics Lab

Subject ITE513 Forensic Investigation – new objectives

  • be able to design and develop a final investigation report;
  • be able to critically evaluate and secure a digital crime scene;
  • be able to define and justify the international principles for computer evidence
  • be able to collect and secure evidence in a forensically sound manner;

Sure, the new objectives are more challenging but which ones would you rather achieve? 

Cheers,

Martin Hale
Adjunct Senior Lecturer – Charles Sturt University
Chief Executive Officer – IT Masters Pty Ltd

In this edition

  1. Professional Communications is now a core subject
  2. Feedback about our Instructors
  3. ACS’s Big Day In
  4. Subscribe to our Blog: ITM Insight
  5. 2013 Prizewinner: Master of Information Systems Security
  6. ITResearch@CSU
  7. How much credit would I be eligible for? 

Professional Communications is now a core subject

CSU have recognised the critical role that effective interpersonal communications play in the IT industry by introducing Professional Communications as a core subject in every IT Masters Degree delivered by ITM for CSU.
 
Poor communication is the number one reason that projects fail, why companies have a poor perception of their internal IT support groups and why those outside the industry struggle to relate to the IT professional in the real world.
 
Justin Warren from itews.com.au reiterates the importance of an internal IT team being able to effectively sell itself to its customer, the business:
 
“IT doesn’t tend to spend enough time developing a relationship with their customers. They don’t systematically research customer attitudes. They ignore the wider competitive environment of their company, and they ignore the humans involved in making the decisions, with all their biases and flaws,” says Justin.
 
“If your board is signing off on IT outsourcing and cloud computing deals, it might suggest an uncomfortable truth: your internal IT doesn’t know how to sell itself.”
 
This subject is not simply theory – it also incorporates training to ensure students embed the best-practice communications theory that they have learnt into their business communications. The subject culminates in a final recorded presentation assessment, adopting the roles of key players in a fictional business scenario.
 
In March Brenton Burchmore presented a Free Short Course taster of our Professional Communications subject and had a great response from over 1750 students. “The exciting thing is that it is not difficult to improve your communication skills – it just takes a structured development program like this and then the motivation to practice what you have learnt.  

Feedback About Our Instructors 

Each session CSU asks for feedback from our students about how our mentors have performed in their subjects. In Session 3 we were thrilled to see that we had some excellent feedback for both Jeremy Koster and the very busy Brenton Burchmore.
 
Jeremy led students in the subject ITE513 Forensic Investigation as part of the Master of Information Systems Security. Jeremy has been a certified CISSP for 7 years and has a range of security qualifications such as PCIP, SANS GCIH, SANS GPEN, CEH and CHFI. He completed his Masters of Information System Security in 2006. In August this year Jeremy will be running our Handling Security Incidents Free Short Course, with details to be released in the coming months.
 
Brenton has had a leading role in the redesign of many of our subjects, particularly MGI521 Professional Communications and delivered ITE518, MGI511, MGI514 and MGI518 in Session Three.
 
We’re very happy to have both lecturers on board and appreciate the great efforts all our mentors go to in order to deliver engaging webinars.

ACS’s Big Day In

The Big Day In Event is an initiative by the ACS to connect secondary and tertiary students with IT organisations. The aim is to excite students about a potential career in IT and provide networking opportunities for jobs and internships. The event kicked off in Sydney in March and has several more dates scheduled around the country for April and May. The organisers are pleased to report that over 40% of the attendees are female, and it is great to see a more balanced audience expressing interest in a future in IT.
 
The CSU team is looking forward to catching up with the ACS team in Bathurst. If you or your organisation would like to get involved there are some great exhibition and presentation opportunities to be found on their website.  

Subscribe to our Blog: ITM Insight

In April we launched our new ITM Insight blog on the IT Masters website.  The blog will cover topics related to current and future trends in the IT Industry and discuss ways in which you can future-proof your skills.
 
The blog will be updated on a weekly basis and so far we’ve discussed the role of the CIO in today’s corporate climate and how to make complex ideas more accessible. Keep an eye out for next week’s article that addresses the importance of communication skills as you progress from an IT professional into IT Management and suddenly it becomes “not all about the technology anymore.”

2013 Prizewinner: Master of Information Systems Security

In our Session 3 Newsletter we mistakenly reported Andrew Brown as the IT Masters Graduation Prizewinner for Information Systems Security. While Andrew achieved some outstanding results in his time at CSU, the rightful winner of the prize was Jack Coleman. Jack answered some of our questions about his postgrad experience:
 
Q: What prompted you to decide to study at CSU?
 
Balancing work, family and study commitments, the fact that I could study for the Masters online at CSU as opposed to having to attend a campus was attractive. Additionally, I liked the fact that the course consisted of a mix of academic subjects and industry certifications. I had intended doing some of the certifications anyway, so combining them with a Masters in Info Systems Security seemed the logical way to go.
 
Q: Can you give a description of your current job?
 
I work in the Information Security field for the Federal Government.
 
Q: Has the course had any effect on your career path?
 
Yes, I have been able to demonstrate the skills and knowledge gained from the course. This in turn has led to increased responsibilities and more opportunities.
 
Q: What was the biggest challenge you faced in completing your study?
 
Fitting in the study with work commitments and raising a young family was definitely the biggest challenge. This seemed to be a common theme for most students. There were many late nights at the kitchen table finishing assignments, or trying to concentrate in online lectures that were scheduled at dinner and bath time for the kids. I also found it challenging to find the appropriate amount of time to spend on assignments and studying for the exams; it’s important to know how many marks each task is worth, and put the effort in accordingly.
 
Q: What drove you to achieve such outstanding results?

I’m grateful for the support I had from my wife and family; they gave me the space to allow me to study. I also had a very supportive workplace. I set out to just do the best I could but I soon found that, though challenging, I really enjoyed the subjects. The lecturers were all terrific, very knowledgeable and approachable. I also found the interaction with fellow students on the forums invaluable. I’d encourage all students to actively participate; you get out what you put in.
 
Q: Which subject did you find the most rewarding?

It’s difficult to choose one however I think it would be ITC593 – Network Security. I found the history of encryption, and the maths behind it very interesting. The lecturer Jason Howarth was able to clearly explain complex topics. At work, I use the knowledge from this subject on a regular basis.

IT Research @ CSU

Erdal Ozkaya is a favourite lecturer of ours and travels the world giving presentations on topics such as Network Security and Social Media. He is currently working on his Doctor of IT with CSU on the subject of “Privacy in Social Media”
 
Despite his already strong relationship with the team, he decided to continue his studies with CSU because it gave him the freedom to study via distance education. A self-confessed “busy guy,” this study method allowed him to continue working all over the world and contribute to his research while doing so.
 
He will be presenting part of his research at the EC Council event Hacker Halted in Atlanta delivering a lecture entitled Zombies in Social Networking:
“Social networking has changed the way we interact on a global scale,” says Erdal. “On the surface it lets us make new friends and business contacts. But, what of the darker side of Social Networking? How do you protect your business or yourself and your family from Zombies, predators, Cyberbullies, scammers, stalkers, and other cyber-criminals?” 

How much credit would I be eligible for?

To find out if you can get credit for any qualifications that you have already completed please fill out our Eligibility Form.

By qualifying for credits you may be able to significantly reduce the length of your Masters.

The Key to Winning (and Keeping) Top IT Jobs
23 April 2014

Author and technical futurist Leo Wrobel has written a must read article, “Communication Tips for Technology Professionals.” It is well written, clearly communicated and leaves the jargon behind.

Wrobel makes the point that back in your student days, classes in mathematics, science and information technology were probably your focus, preparing you for your career in technology. You were hired and all the study paid off. Then you’re promoted to management and “it’s not all about the technology any more”.

In a management role, effective verbal and written communication is the most important skill to have. As Wrobel states “what does it matter what you know if you can’t illustrate it in writing or the spoken word to your superiors, subordinates, and peers in the workplace?”

In the current environment, technical skills of all disciplines are not hard to find and are even abundant in countries such as India who are now challenging Western countries with their know-how and skills. In order to win the top jobs, it is necessary to have additional skills on the resume and top of the list is exceptional communication skills.

If you have superior communication skills, it will set you apart.

Martin Hale, CEO of IT Masters and 25 year Industry veteran said “Throughout my career I have been amazed at the number of highly competent IT people who are let down by their communications skills. One of the key issues I see with these people is a lack of empathy for where the audience is coming from. In order to be an effective communicator you need to be able to put yourself in the position of the people who you are communicating with.“

Hale continues: “This often includes simplifying the message so that the audience can understand the technical solution that is being proposed and using analogies to explain complex technical concepts. I have seen numerous instances of the best technical solution not being adopted because it was not communicated effectively so you need to invest the time and effort into getting the message right.” 

Verbal communications, one-on-one meetings, group meetings, formal presentations, within the team or company-wide – no matter the environment you must be prepared, do your research, know your subject. This will ensure credibility. The chances are as an IT professional, you were not really called upon to do presentations, and they may be out of your comfort zone. If this is the case, get some coaching; it will be worth the investment. And when you have received coaching, continually reinforce what you have learnt and always practice, then practice some more. The more you know your presentation the better the delivery.

As Wrobel points out that email ensures that you communicate in writing every day,. Therefore in an email it is essential to be professional, follow etiquette and never send an email in anger. Email is traceable and it can be a permanent reminder. Wrobel says, “don’t underestimate even trivial things, like email”. In a corporate environment, email is not trivial; there are too many horror stories which bear testament to that. He is correct when he says,

Every time you send an email or a corporate memo, you’re sending out impressions of who you are, what you do, and how you do what you do. Moreover, you are sending each missive in a traceable written form. Be serious, even in emails.” 

It is also important to ensure your written words do not have spelling errors or sloppy grammar, they are not good for the image.

All too often, in this digital age, we choose to use email as an alternative to face-to-face communication, if the email is not a confirmation of a conversation, then consider actually conversing with a colleague, particularly if they are really close-by. Body language is an important factor in communication and a good clue to a person’s intent and attitude.

Wrobel also advises “if you are indeed serious about your professional imprint, leave the texting and social media home unless it is directly germane to the audience. I don’t mean never send a text message, but reserve such informal communication to close in day-to-day tasks, preferably with peers—not superiors or subordinates. Remember, anything that goes out to a broad audience is actually an advertisement for you. Written communication of any kind can be a first impression that can’t be taken back.”

Verbal and written communication skills are equally important in business, even those meet in the corridor quick chats and brief emails.  When you are at work, be at work, be professional. Each interaction will either enhance or tarnish the impression others will have of you. As Wrobel concludes, “Yes, it’s that important!”

Talk Nerdy to me
16 April 2014

Week03_Talk-Nerdy-1

Melissa Marshall aims to teach great communication skills to scientists and engineers, so that they can effectively share their work. 

As part of her mission for effective communication Marshall gave an outstanding and engaging TED Talk that highlights a concept which most of us can relate to: fear of the unknown; the jargon, technical terms and unfamiliar words of the “techno nerd”.

Marshall was talking about her experience in teaching engineering students at Penn State University, no not IT, but the concept is exactly the same.  Initially she found that she was “scared of these students with their big brains and their big books and their big, unfamiliar words.”  But as she had conversations with the students, she was amazed at their ideas and their knowledge and wanted others to share them.

“So your science is relevant to us, so what?” she asks.  As an example she introduces the biological concept of trabeculae: “You study trabeculae, don’t just tell me this is what you study, tell me you study trabeculae, which is the mesh-like structure of our bones because it’s important to understanding and treating osteoporosis.”  Now we are interested.

Accessible Communications

Avoid jargon. We all use it, every industry has it but it can be daunting.  Marshall’s example, “Sure, you can say “spatial and temporal,” but why not just say “space and time,” is a perfect example of simplifying your jargon and making your words more accessible.

Emphasise the Visual

We are mainly visual beings, pictures do paint a thousand words, and so a few words along with images will have much more impact.  Presentations done well are informative and entertaining, badly done and they are boring.   

Marshall urges limiting bullet points; bullet points kill and they will kill a presentation, as it is too much reading, too much concentration is required and then the audience isn’t listening to the presentation.

Marshall concludes with this equation:

Week03_Talk-Nerdy-2

Take your science, subtract your bullet points and jargon, divide by relevance and multiply it by the passion for what you’re doing, and it will equal incredible interactions that are full of understanding.  So when you’ve solved this equation, by all means, talk nerdy to me.

Melissa’s great presentation can be found here.

Remain Relevant – Relinquish the Reins
9 April 2014

Week02_Relinquish-Control

CIOs who want to continue managing IT as a kingdom in today’s tech-savvy, fast-paced corporate world will be managing an ever-diminishing realm, according to Coca-Cola Amatil’s group CIO, Barry Simpson.

“As technology is evolving more quickly and moving into more parts of the business, your role in IT is to manage that ecosystem not control it,” Simpson tells CIO Australia. “If all you do is control, you’ll be too slow, expensive and make yourself irrelevant.

Simpson cites the consumerisation of IT, making IT suitable or available for mass consumption which in turn raises the level of technology literacy, particularly amongst Gen Y and Gen Z individuals who have grown up with technology as a given.

Pricewaterhouse Coopers also refer to “The consumerisation of IT – the next generation CIO”, a Center for Technology Innovation publication which states in its summary, “To be successful, CIOs need to be more proactive.  Accepting the inevitability of the consumerisation trend and preparing for it by rethinking how they run IT.  CIOs should consider forging new, collaborative relationships with users, giving them freedom to make IT decisions, and teaching them how to assume responsibility for those decisions.  And rather than enforcing hardware and application standards, they’ll need to rethink IT architecture and controls to focus on controlling — or loosening controls on — information.”  Their publication concludes,

“Getting ahead of consumerisation will not only align your technology and management systems to the human reality, reducing friction, but it will also put you in a stronger position to lead technology and the business as a whole.”

The mobility of technology is also challenging traditional ideas and activities.  Smart phones and tablets can be used anywhere, anytime, this is a trend towards BYOD – Bring Your Own Device which in itself is creating a revolution.  IT leaders need to be proactive and create processes in line with this trend and actively manage and embrace it or they will disappear.

The “Future State” CIO
1 April 2014

futurestate100

According to a CIO Executive Council White Paper, “Executive Competencies and the Future-State CIO”, The Future-State CIO is a chief information officer who has built a sound foundation of operational excellence, aligned IT with the business and enabled initiatives that transform how the enterprise operates.

In 2007 the CIO Executive council commenced a program to define the future of the CIO role as a strategic business partner, not just head of all things technology.

Whereas in the past the traditional role of the head of technology was the expert in delivering technology, in today’s world the CIO is the specialist in the application of technology to the business, particularly business processes and improving their efficiency in line with the company’s goals.

“Increasingly we are seeing the need for the CIO to be proficient in communication, project management and sales techniques” says Martin Hale, CEO of IT Masters “The role of the CIO is now not only to connect with their IT staff but also the ongoing need to contribute the business on many levels”

As cloud services gain prominence, the CIO’s role has required a further transformation.  A company which has outsourced a great deal of its technology requires a CIO who manages a portfolio of services, whether they are delivered by a third party or in-house.  Bloomberg Businessweek notes:

“The CIO’s job is akin to a circus ringmaster balancing business needs against an incoming stream of opportunities—and risks—delivered directly to line departments. Software design and installation are replaced by service analysis for data security, systems availability, and responsiveness.”

CIO of Siemens Financial Services, Steve Mason who had been head of finance, believes a good head of IT has to understand the key business issues in order to decide where technology can assist.  “So it is about the IT function using technology to solve business problems rather than technology being the be all and end all,” Mason says.

Further highlighting the change in a CIO’s role, Bloomberg Businessweek also notes, “the successful CIO needs an intimate idea of how current technology can increase the company’s sales and not just reduce costs or improve clerical productivity.”  In doing so, the CIO can become a strategic force in their company.