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Computer Information Technology program draws upon faculty expertise to enhance curriculum

September 24, 2013

Writer: Caleb Trujillo

There was little rest for the BYU-Idaho Department of Computer Information Technology (CIT) this past summer. Faculty members have worked tirelessly with catalog restructures, establishing an online degree, and creating new textbooks for various BYU-Idaho courses. 

Instructor Michael McLaughlin, in particular, has played a key role through his expertise in Oracle databases. McLaughlin, who formerly worked as a Senior Upgrade Manager at Oracle, has written various instructional manuals on the company's services in the world of CIT. 

His most recent work, "MySQL Workbench: Data Modeling & Development," was published this April and serves as one of the textbooks for CIT 111 and 225. He also wrote the "Oracle Database 11g & MySQL 5.6 Developer Handbook" that serves as the primary textbook for CIT 225. 

In terms of future plans, "Oracle Database 12c PL/SQL Programming" should be released in February of 2014. However, the publisher will try to have it available to students by Winter Semester 2014 to serve as the textbook for CIT 325. BYU-Idaho students aren't the only users of these books. Other universities have adopted them for their various CIT courses as well. 

McLaughlin's influence doesn't just include text. As an Oracle ACE - an industry recognized Oracle expert - McLaughlin has spoken at various conferences. In October 2012 he spoke in San Francisco at Oracle OpenWorld to various audiences of over 100 attendants on the topic of managing ETL processes for data warehouses. He also spoke at UTOUG's (Utah Oracle Users Group) Spring Training Days in April 2013 on MySQL stored procedures, and PL/SQL programming. McLaughlin will also speak at UTOUG's Fall Symposium this October. His topic will be on PL/SQL Oracle 12c and its new features. 

"Speaking at the conferences is a lot of work, but it requires me to keep completely up to date on the technical stack that I teach. It lets me network with hiring managers and technical staff, and it positions me to help our students get great internships," said McLaughlin.

The CIT Department is also in the process of creating an online degree. While there has not been an official release date for the degree online, courses are being developed by the department in hopes of offering its skills to students across the world. 

"The challenge is to make a quality online program where the students still have help overcoming the barriers of technology and also helping the online instructors understand the technology that we use," said Steven Rigby, chair of the CIT Department. "As we design our courses, we will try to create opportunities for students to interact, whether it is through video, discussion boards, or Skype sessions with teacher assistants. With technology we can overcome those barriers that come with taking a class online and make it a more tangible experience."

Some online CIT courses have already been confirmed and are being utilized as part of the online Web Design and Development degree.