Industry-Academic Partnerships in Information Systems Education

Industry-Academic Partnerships in Information Systems Education

Mark Conway (Hyperion, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-114-8.ch012
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Several thousand universities worldwide participate in industry-academic partnerships as a way to expose their students to “real-world” issues and technologies and to provide them skills that will facilitate their transition from the university to the workplace. This chapter highlights several of the leading IT-focused, industry-academic programs such as Hyperion’s Academic Alliance Program, the Teradata University Network, and SAP’s University Alliance Program; and references similar initiatives from Cisco, SUN, and IBM. The focus of the chapter is from an industry practioner’s perspective; it covers what motivates companies to launch these types of programs, what the programs’ goals are, and what benefits accrue to the participating company and university. Information systems and technology (IS&T) are evolving so quickly that universities are continually challenged to keep abreast of the latest developments to ensure that their curricula and programs are current. On one hand, IT programs are pressured by various stakeholders—deans, incoming students, parents, businesses recruiting on campus, and so forth—to keep their programs current and relevant to these constituents’ needs. On the other hand, faculty and IT programs cannot chase the latest fads and each new innovation, if they are to offer a stable learning environment. The significant costs—in terms of time, training, technical support, curriculum revisions, and so forth—involved in deploying commercial software in an academic setting makes selecting which partnerships to pursue an important and far-reaching decision. The benefits can be significant, but the faculty need to understand up front, the expectations and level of commitment needed to make these kinds of collaborations successful. By gaining a better understanding of how industry views these programs, academics will be better able to assess these alliances and determine which best support and align with their programs’ goals and learning objectives. Developing students who can join companies as new employees and IT leaders and quickly contribute to a firm’s success is something that both universities and businesses strive for. But, it requires a mutual understanding of the skills that will be needed, vehicles for developing those skills within the students, and a buy-in from faculty to develop the necessary curriculum and teaching resources. This chapter contends that successfully managed industry-academic partnerships can be a vehicle for developing these capabilities, while enriching learning opportunities for students.

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