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Spotlight on Walden // Sep 06, 2013

Preparing for Leadership in Information Technology

Dr. Karlyn Barilovits has been focusing on the needs of information technology (IT) professionals since she joined the Walden University faculty in 2010, playing a key role in creating Walden’s MS in Information Systems. With a doctoral degree in computer science, experience as a programmer with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and 20 years of teaching in higher education, Dr. Barilovits has a firsthand understanding of the requirements for success in the IT field today, and she has applied this knowledge to the development of Walden’s newest degree program for IT professionals, the Doctor of Information Technology (DIT). As program director, Dr. Barilovits shares her thoughts about the D.I.T. and its benefits for IT leaders.

Why might someone consider earning a DIT?

A degree gives you options. The higher the degree, the more options you have available to you. The D.I.T. is the logical next step after a master’s in computing, and it’s appropriate for anyone with a master’s degree in a technical field. At Walden, we also have a bachelor’s-to-doctorate path in the DIT program for those with a bachelor’s degree in information technology or related fields.

Today, organizations hiring senior-level IT managers are looking for a combination of strong leadership and advanced technical skills. More and more organizations have a chief information officer (CIO) or chief technology officer (CTO), and these jobs are competitive. The DIT helps people prepare for senior-level opportunities in industry and academia, and for consulting positions. Those who have a substantial amount of IT experience and are now interested in teaching can earn a DIT to qualify for positions in higher education. Graduates might also become information systems managers, information strategists, or higher education administrators.

How does Walden’s DIT program help IT professionals prepare for the opportunities and challenges in their field?

There’s a tremendous need for an applied terminal degree in which students can learn about scholarly research and use critical thinking to solve problems in an organizational context rather than a theoretical one. Unlike the typical terminal degree program for someone in information technology, Walden’s DIT is focused on practical knowledge. Students also expand their technical, research, and communication skills.

Walden is one of the few universities to offer this kind of program online. Our program is designed to enhance students’ technical expertise while developing the leadership skills they need to guide their organizations.

What are some of the hallmarks of Walden’s DIT program?

Those who are promoted to lead people need leadership and communication skills. Our program focuses on communication from day one, and communication skills are woven throughout the program. For example, we require our students to write elevator pitches and proposals to a board. Our graduates are prepared to write well and speak well.

The program also provides problem-based learning in an online environment. After students complete the technical core courses, simulator courses offer the experience of being in a leadership environment. Students are given a real-world problem and draw on their technical knowledge to solve it. For example, they might be told they’re the CTO or CIO of a company that was just purchased by a larger company. How will they merge the computer systems? Or there’s a security breach, and they’re responsible for stopping the problem, analyzing how it occurred, and determining how to prevent it from happening again. Because there’s no set answer, they need to look at these IT problems from a leadership perspective and use their technical knowledge.

Another hallmark of our program is that it really teaches students how to do research. We have a series of three research seminar courses and the doctoral study, in which they do deep research.

These problem-based learning simulators, research seminars, residencies, and other learning opportunities help our students succeed as IT leaders who can analyze situations and implement solutions in the workplace that make a positive impact on the growth and success of their organizations.

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