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Designed to attract computer science students and build advanced skills for the next wave of IT jobs, IBM and the University of Arizona announced Oct. 17 a Web 2.0 classroom curriculum.

Offered to the MIS (management information systems department) and marketing students at The Eller College of Management, the program hopes to equip students with skills in the creation and management of online communities and social network systems.

“The idea here is to introduce some level of education where students get an understanding of the tools—those from wikis, those for blogging—and familiarize themselves. How do you start these communities? What do you need to plan?” Rawn Shah, a community program manager at IBM and adjunct professor of the Web 2.0 class, told eWEEK.

The new course is aimed at reinvigorating undergraduate interest in IT by appealing to the “MySpace Generation”—those considered familiar with online communities.

Student interest in computer science majors has been on the decline since the dot com bust earlier in the decade, and reports and studies have warned of a looming shortage in technology-skilled workers.

The growing use of social and community technologies has led to an increased demand for the job role of a “community manager,” according to IBM, and it’s a position that could be filled by an IT-skilled professional or someone who works in marketing.

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“This is a job that’s in-between marketing and IT support. You could be a technical developer or technical lead, or even a senior architect on the IT side. While it’s not a technically intensive job, it can be an excellent leadership role,” said Shah.

The new course will cover the role of online communities in business, the common types of community tools and environments, as well as how to launch, populate and grow communities.

The new course will be supported by IBM’s Academic Initiative program, which provides technology education benefits at a number of universities to encourage the use of open standards technology.

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