The National Convergence Technology Center (CTC) hosts annual professional development events for IT faculty from across the country. These events – called Working Connections – are designed to teach the latest IT topics to faculty so that they can deliver them to their students over the next 12 months, either by creating new courses or updating existing courses.
Working Connections is among the crown jewels of the CTC’s work with educators. Since the first Summer Working Connections back in 2002, over 100 different IT topics have been offered to well over 1650 attendees. Starting in 2008, the National CTC has regularly surveyed Working Connections attendees to measure how the topics they learned were ultimately used in the classroom. Based on results from those longitudinal surveys, to date, over 88,500 students have been impacted through Working Connections training. Further, over 300 new degrees and certificates have been designed as a result of Working Connections attendance.
Selecting the track topics for Working Connections involves careful consideration. What IT classes and skills do community colleges need to be teaching to keep their programs on the cutting edge and their graduates workforce-ready? National CTC grant partners are a part of the process, as are current trends and workforce recommendations provided each quarter by the CTC’s national Business and Industry Leadership Team (BILT).
In addition, feedback from the attendees themselves also plays a big role in choosing which topics to deliver at the next Working Connections event. Below is a summary of the top responses to the open-ended (i.e. not multiple-choice; attendees wrote in their own answers) question “What topics interest you for future Working Connections?” These answers come from attendees at the three Summer Working Connections (Texas, Florida, Michigan) and one online Winter Working Connections in 2017. Attendees could answer with more than one topic. The list is pulled from 185 responses:
- Data security/cyber security, 58 votes (19% of all responses)
- Cloud computing/cloud networking, 36 votes (includes 14 votes for Amazon Web Services)
- Programing and coding, 29 votes
- Internet of Things, 27 votes
- Data analytics and statistics/data science, 12 votes
- Virtualization, 11 votes
These results offer an interesting glimpse into areas where IT instructors want to strengthen their curriculum, either because it’s not yet offered or offered but in need of updating and revising. It’s worth noting that most of these topics match curriculum recommendations from the BILT regarding program areas that need expanding.
The 2018 Summer Working Connections tracks have not yet been finalized. If you’re an IT faculty member and want to be added to the mailing list, email us at NationalCTC@collin.edu .
And, if you offer regular professional development events like Working Connections, be sure you involve the attendees in deciding what content to offer.