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2020 Summer Working Connections – COVID-19

The National Convergence Technology Center (CTC) recently featured its Summer Working Connections in-depth training all ONLINE for the first time ever. Working Connections training workshops offer several tracks that cover a range of the most in-demand topics in IT. The goal is to provide attendees with the expertise needed to teach their respective track in a subsequent semester, bringing the most current information to their classrooms either as a stand-alone course or as supplemental information to an existing course. This event is typically offered for five days in July face-to-face at Collin College in Frisco, Texas. However, due to COVID-19, this year it was all featured online and we have the scoop!

Over 187 faculty members (smashing our previous attendance record of 112 attendees) from 28 states across the country logged on to their computers in their home-office to explore the following cutting-edge tracks:

  • AWS Cloud Architecting
  • Cybersecurity-Palo Alto Networks Faculty Admin I & II
  • Hybrid App Development
  • Introduction to Microsoft Azure
  • Programming Essentials in Python
  • vSphere 6.7 Fast Track, and
  • Wireshark: Protocols, Troubleshooting, and Network Forensics

Despite running the event online and risking lengthy “Zoom fatigue” across five days, attendee satisfaction was just as high as it’s been in recent “in person” years.  Well over 95% of attendees agreed – or strongly agreed – with the statement that Working Connections “provided high quality IT training” and “showcased best practices.”  In fact, almost half of the attendees reported a preference to run the 2021 edition of Summer Working Connections online.

The biggest downside this summer, aside from unavoidable technical problems with home PCs and internet connections, was an inability for attendees to easily network with each other.  The mingling and discussions that happen in the break room, in the lunch line, and in the hotel shuttles are always a big part of the event’s success.  While 94% of attendees last summer made new connections, only 74% of attendees this summer reported making new connections.

In addition to the tracks, the attendees were able to enjoy impactful lunch presentations:

  • Jon Lundquist and Peter Carswell from Columbus State Community College discussed Challenges in Building the Mobile App Degree Programs at Columbus State Community College – They shared several challenges and resolutions of building their new mobile app degree program, starting with “getting the grant” that funded their work. Click here to watch the presentation and learn how they built this degree.
  • Jim Boardman from Palo Alto Networks discussed Cybersecurity Academy Certifications. Attendees discovered that there were 900 Cybersecurity Academies in 69 countries and that they were “open to any degree or diploma granting accredited institutions.” There is also an online certification discount available until August 31, 2020, but you must click here to watch the video and learn how to redeem it.
  • Laura Chappell of Chappell University shared a wealth of knowledge on the Interplanetary Internet that helps NASA communicate with probes and landers on other planets. Specifically, Laura covered three essential elements of the IPN: transmit capability using CubeSATs, receiving ability, and relay capability that employs “Delay/Disruption Tolerant Networking.” It’s a very technical – and very fascinating – presentation. Click here to see the whole thing.

CTC has taken all this information and placed in our “Lessons Learned” file so we may do better in the future.
If you are a current IT faculty member from a non-profit school (high school, community college, four-year university), you can be added to the invite list be emailing Technology is always changing and so are the times with that being said, you don’t want to miss next year. We don’t know how it will be but it’s sure to be epic!

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