The books are closed for the 2021 edition of Summer Working Connections. Last month the National CTC hosted 128 faculty members online from 23 states across the country for a five-day professional development event. Regular blog readers know that Working Connections (offered for five days each July and three days each December) provides a deep dive into cutting-edge, in-demand IT topics for classroom implementation. Attendees are expected to take what they learned and either create a new course or supplement an existing course. This summer, the CTC offered training in artificial intelligence, Azure, cybersecurity, data analytics and visualization, Linux Red Hat, and Python.
Since the pandemic forced the event to move online in 2020 and 2021, the National CTC has noticed two trends.
1. AUDIENCE – The reach of this event has expanded considerably beyond the usual cohort that can travel to North Texas each summer. This past July, the CTC welcomed 27 first-time attendees new to Working Connections. That number was 25 last summer. Indeed, on the 2021 post-event survey, 51% of respondents stated that they prefer to attend the 2022 edition of Summer Working Connections online. Even with widespread Zoom burnout, there seems to still be a large audience eager and willing to attend in-depth professional development online.
2. COLLABORATION – With the move online in 2020, the CTC has become very interested in learning how virtual attendees network with one another. Aside from the technical content, a huge benefit of Summer Working Connections events is the informal discussions that happen among attendees in the break room, in the lunch line, or in the hotel shuttles. Those collaborations are vitally important, creating connections and fostering sharing. But are they happening at online events? Anecdotally, virtual environments would seem to be poor platforms for robust networking and collaborating.
This past July, 73% of attendees reported making a total of 385 brand new connections (which is in line with the 80% who reported new connections at the online Winter Working Connections last December), while only 46% reported maintaining 213 existing relationships. These numbers seem large, but the CTC looks forward to comparing them with the results of the 2022 Summer Working Connections survey. That July 2022 event – as of now – will be face-to-face again at Collin College in North Texas and will feature more opportunities to connect. Note also that only 17% of respondents reported interacting with people outside of their own track, the sort of mingling that is so common at in-person events.
The next online Working Connections event is set for December 13-15, 2021. Write to us (nationalCTC) if you want to be added to the invitation list. Track topics are still pending.