Last summer, Dr. Ann Beheler, Principal Investigator of the National Convergence Technology Center (CTC), encouraged some of the CTC staff to take the CompTIA Network + class. The goal was to for these three staff members – none of whom has a professional background in IT – learn the basic technical competency in networking administration and support to better understand the sort of IT workforce trends and job skills taught at community colleges across the country supported by the CTC. And they did so while working full-time and managing their everyday personal lives (two are parents of elementary school children). The staff members tackled a class that required a lot of reading and homework assignments.
Although,the class wasn’t for credit towards a certificate or degree, the staff pursued the class with diligence and determination to not only pass but pass successfully. As a result, they passed with “flying colors.” To give you an idea of what it was like, below are their responses to questions regarding their information technology experience:
Christina Titus (Program Director)
- What were your concerns in the beginning? Did they change, if so, how? Last year it was requested by my supervisor that I take Network + to aid in my ability to work with our National Business and Industry Leadership Team (BILT) and to help me with our skill standards grant. I have taken an Ed2Go IT course, with that it is not really instructor led; it’s on your own and its only reading and quizzes at a very high level. The only other actual IT class I have taken was in undergraduate I took a hardware class. I made a good grade but was banned from touching the computers. So in January 2019 I signed up for the Network+ Leading up to the start of this Network + class I was nervous that I wasn’t going to do well. I have learned a lot in my seven years working with the BILT but did not feel that I was going to be able excel in this class. That thought did quickly change as the class started and I started making good grades on assignments, quizzes and tests. It really changed when I was able to explain complicated IT topicsto co-workers or even more when I was able to contribute to a conversation with my supervisor. There were some aspects I found to be interesting and not hard to accomplish, but the biggest challenge for me was time.
- What were your concerns in the beginning? Did they change, if so, how? This class required a lot of time to devote to it in order to be successful, there were some additional labs that I would have liked to attempt but time just did not permit me to do them. Upon finishing the class, I had a good sense of pride and hard work. It took a lot of dedication and focus.
- How do you feel as a result of taking the class? You can say I was amazed at how well I actually did and how much I actually learned from the class.
- What would you recommend to others taking the class? The advice I would give to someone else taking this class is don’t procrastinate if you want to do well, but also don’t get discouraged if you don’t understand. Always ask lots of questions.
- Do you feel that you learned enough to better understand basic IT jargon for the most part? I would not say this class helped me understand IT jargon;it did help me understand how it all works and how it is all connected. A true test to this was when I was having a discussion with my supervisor about skill standards information. We were talking about cloud and security and I was able to understand and actively participate in the conversation even she was surprised that I knew what was being discussed.
Debbie Miller (Program Manager):
- What were your concerns in the beginning? Did they change, if so, how? Our staff was allowed to register for the course as continuing education students although the class was actually a credit course. Even though we would not get an official grade, I knew I would see my grade as I moved through the course and would want to do well. Although I have taken several continuing education courses in the last few years, this was a credit class but special permissions were granted to allow us to take it as CE non-credit and as such, I was a bit concerned on how I might do.
- What was the most challenging part of the class? In order to keep current and get a good grade, the class required an average of 10 to 15 hours each week over 8 weeks. As such,time management became very important to ensure I maintained a good grade and did not get behind.
- How do you feel as a result of taking the class? For sure I feel like I have broadened my knowledge of Networking. I was also excited with the achievement of completion and the success of a good grade.
- What would you recommend to others taking the class? I would definitely recommend the course to anyone interested in pursuing IT or anyone interested in obtaining exposure to the various areas in Networking (Networking, Wireless, Virtualization and Cloud Computing, Risk Management, Security in Network Design, etc.). Additionally, if interested in pursuing IT, this course could assist in figuring out which IT career area you might want to pursue.
- Do you have any suggestions about the class? Do the homework activities, listen to the videos, and prepare for the exams. I feel it could be overwhelming to catch up if you get too far behind… keep current! Also, do not hesitate to contact your professor if you need assistance.
- Do you feel that you learned enough to better understand basic IT jargon for the most part? Absolutely! Not to know Networking hands on;?however, certainly to recognize the terms and know where to get additional information if needed. I gained an additional appreciation for those in the IT field and IT careers. IT is an area that is constantly changing and will require continuous learning over a career.
Mark Dempsey (Assistant Director):
- What were your concerns in the beginning? Did they change, if so, how? As someone without any formal training in IT, I was concerned the class would be too technical and too detailed and way over my head. The hardback textbook was formidable. But, as one might imagine, the course designers ease you into it step by step, starting with the basics and building up to the more complex elements. In the end, there was very little that was too technical for me.
- What was the most challenging? I understand subnetting as a general concept and why it’s important, but in practice it’s not easy to do. I’d long heard from others about the special frustration that can come from subnetting lessons and exercises and now I guess I’m part of the club. Aside from that, the most challenging part was all of the acronyms. By the end of the class, it had almost become comical – bordering on self-parody – to me how many new acronyms each chapter introduced.
- How do you feel as a result of taking the class? I feel a definitely sense of accomplishment. It was a big undertaking for someone with a full-time job and two young children. I developed a new appreciation for students who juggle degree and certificate plans with “real world” responsibilities. It can be exhausting and overwhelming… and I was only taking one class. I was spending all of my lunches and late-night hours reading and taking notes and doing exams. I was also impressed with how much IT I’d already picked up after spending 6+ years on the job here at the National CTC attending meetings and trainings and soaking up by osmosis all of the tools and processes. I knew more than I thought I did… and I also realized there was a whole lot I didn’t know.
- What would you recommend to others taking the class? If you’re interested in a career in networking, it’s a pretty good survey of the foundational basics. I think someone described the content as a mile wide and an inch thick.
- Do you feel that you learnedenough to better understand basic IT jargon for the most part? As mentioned, I picked up a lot from my job here at the CTC, but the class certainly cemented the important concepts and provided more context and detail.
The course is titled CompTIA Net + Certification, course number CTIA 6390. The outcome from taking this course is to acquire the necessary skills to pass CompTIA Network+ certification exam.