The National Convergence Technology Center (CTC) recently held its first-ever meeting for Convergence College Network (CCN) administrators. The National CTC has long led an active and engaged group of faculty members, but recently realized it may be helpful to create a new opportunity for discussion at a higher administrative level.
The conference call/webinar meeting was extremely successful, combining both faculty and administrator attendees. Topics discussed included explaining the structure/purpose of the CCN, implementing stackable certificates, dealing with student financial aid challenges, and exploring other potential grant opportunities. While the point was to focus primarily on administrators’ unique interests and challenges, faculty members also benefited from the new perspective. The overall goal of this new group is to make the CCN run more efficiently by better informing administrators and faculty alike how to meet and exceed the goals and objectives of the National CTC and NSF grant.
The highlights of the discussion:
There are three levels of participation in the CCN, which both accommodate and reward its members. Level 1 represents the highest level, providing the most financial benefit but asking for the most participation in return. Level 3 represents the lowest level of benefits and participation. No matter the school, every CCN member can find an appropriate level.
Demand for this is increasing. The overall goal is to align certificates with a degree, to better quantify “completers,” and to provide students with knowledge and skills that are most in-demand. With stackable certificates, students earn credentials and high-stakes certifications while looking for employment. One best practice “trick:” if a course has numerous versions, and your college will only allow each student to complete a class once, consider changing the course number on each revision to avoid problems when offering future revisions.
Some colleges have trouble securing financial aid for students completing certificates and certifications. There are several ways to get around these challenges: reviewing the number of credit hours within the course, awarding the certificates post-completion of the degree, or asking students to claim the degree instead so completion of a certificate won’t cut off financial aid. Ultimately, knowing your federal and state policies will help best identify a method that can provide a win-win for both the college and students.
Applying for alternate grant funding can be a difficult process. Building a business case and making sure resources are distributed and/or budgeted parallel to the outcomes, goals, and objectives is one way to improve your chances with the grant committee. Do not underestimate the value in researching the efforts of others to ensure you are not duplicating existing grant work. And always remember to utilize your contacts: one person can sometimes provide you with access to a much larger network. That is, a relationship with an existing grant can help with your grant application.
Going forward, these CCN administrators meetings will be held quarterly.
Are you an administrator at one of the National CTC’s CCN schools and want to get involved in this new group? Let us know. And be sure to check back with us for upcoming blog posts that explore in more detail the topics above.