CCN Focus: Dwight Watt, Georgia Northwestern Technical College

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As a part of the National Convergence Technology Center (CTC) featured blogs, we would like to introduce to you some of our professors and instructors in the Convergence College Network (CCN) community. The CCN is a select cohort of community colleges and universities from across the country that connects IT educators with a wealth of resources to enhance their programs. In this week’s Q&A blog, we’re featuring Dwight Watt, Program Director & Instructor of CISCO and Computer Information Systems at Georgia Northwestern Technical College.

What do you teach? My two primary areas are currently networking and cybersecurity.  In networking, I teach Cisco and Windows.  I also teach courses in computer support, web development, database and programming.

How long have you been a teacher, and what sparked your interest in teaching? I have been teaching about 37 years.  I previously taught at Brunswick Junior College, York Technical College, Swainsboro Technical College, Athens Technical College, Heart of Georgia Technical College and Southern Wesleyan University and Peirce College. IMG_0462

In college I was always assisting other students with their problems in computer programming.  I had considered a career in teaching biology.  Nevertheless, I was a computer lab assistant for several years while in college and would tutor students.  A position became open at the local technical college and my professors recommended me for it. As they put it, I was already teaching students.

What is the secret to successfully teaching IT to students? Listening to them and presenting material in different ways they understand.  Answering their questions.

What’s the biggest challenge of teaching IT? The continuously changing world.  You think you know a lot today and tomorrow it is all different.  I have experienced the introduction and move to PCs, the World Wide Web invention – the Internet was invented just before I took classes, but I used it to look up articles for my dissertation in 1980s and other research. Another change was the move from procedural to object-oriented languages, networking and all its growth and now the world of cybersecurity.

Have you always been a teacher? If you had a job in industry prior to teaching what was it? I have left teaching three times to work in the private industry. The entire time that I have been teaching, I have done consulting in networking, PC repair, web pages and management advice. The first time I left, I became a system operator and an assistant programmer for the Sea Island Company.  The second time, I work as a senior programmer and analyst for Policy Management Systems Corporation, doing Y2K work; and the third time, I ran my consulting business full time successfully.  I have been drawn back into the teaching field each time wanting to help students learn.

How has the CCN helped you?  I have been able to explore some new areas and update my skills in a number of other areas so that I can teach the latest information to my students.  I also do a weekly technology article (written for those with no techy background) in several weekly newspapers and a lot of my topics come from the CCN.

What is the best thing about being a part of the CCN? The training they offer and being able to get it for free.  Without CCN’s training my updates are much more limited as we have a small budget in IT.  Also, it’s a chance to meet other IT instructors and to exchange war stories and learn better ways and ways not to teach stuff.

IMG_3655What advice would you give a new community college joining the CCN? Take advantage of every training opportunity and meet other faculty.

Is there anything you would like to suggest improving the CCN program?  I hope that you can continue the training and continue to sponsor it nationally and regionally.  Texas and Florida events were similar, but FL gave more opportunities to interact outside the classroom, so I hope it continues in Jacksonville or Statesboro at GSU.

How do you see the IT landscape changing in the next 5 years?  Cybersecurity will grow but I think it may balance before expected.  Web will continue evolving.  The cloud continues growth, but people are trusting it too much (people are not doing backups and think cloud providers are) and when something happens to the first major data center, I think it may have a heavy impact.  IoT will grow massively and as normal, smaller and more powerful devices, but the servers, desktops and phones are here for a good while.  AI will continue to move in.

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