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Walking in a Winter-Working-Connections-Land


Next month, the National Convergence Technology Center (CTC) will be hosting its fourth Winter Working Connections training event for IT/convergence faculty.  The event will run December 16-18, 2013.  If you haven’t yet registered, there is still time to book your seat.  We’d love to have you join us.

Winter Working Connections is a smaller cousin of our Summer Working Connections flagship event that runs every July.  Unlike Summer’s five days of training covering multiple concurrent tracks and drawing almost 100 attendees, Winter is just two and a half days of training covering fewer concurrent tracks.

We often get asked how we determine which tracks to offer.   This Winter’s slate highlights the different ways a Working Connection track can be selected.

VDI in a Box

“VDI in a Box” hit our radar when it got a good response to end-of-program surveys at two Summer Working Connections events in Michigan and Florida.  We always ask outgoing attendees what topics they’d like to see next time and “VDI in a Box” got a number of votes.   More and more, it seems, virtualization is an essential element to any network.   Even better, this VDI class was developed by one of the National CTC’s partner schools – Florida State College at Jacksonville.   Our plans were further validated when we got an enthusiastic reaction from our leadership team after detailing the curriculum on one of our bi-monthly conference calls.  If the leadership teams seemed intrigued by the content, we figured there was an audience out there.  This track will provide hands-on instruction using Citrix® VDI-in-a-Box™, an all-in-one virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) solution designed to simplify and streamline virtual desktops.

 Reaching Future Students with STEM Summer Camps

“Reaching Future Students with STEM Summer Camps” isn’t the sort of technology-driven track we typically offer at Working Connections.  But with a shorter Winter schedule that can’t always support an in-depth technology topic, there is a unique opportunity to provide instruction on broader topics and best practices.   The National CTC has two partner schools with a lot of experience organizing successful STEM camps (Fox Valley Technical College and the University of North Texas).  We’d long discussed the possibility of trying to deliver their expertise to a larger audience because of the growing need among K-12 and community colleges to develop strong pipelines of STEM students at earlier and earlier ages – especially among females.   We hoped this track might tap into that need.  This track will use existing programs to provide a framework and resources for attendees to design STEM summer camps and workshops.  This will include, among other topics, a discussion of materials, costs, equipment, and recruiting.

 Junos as a Second Language

“Junos as a Second Language” was a suggestion from our business partner at Juniper.  We have had Juniper tracks in the past, but this year the company is offering a free JNCIA certification to attendees in the track.  Attendees will stay a couple of hours past lunch on Wednesday to take the exam, but getting certified will be worth the extra time involved.  We have gotten good feedback from faculty members who have taken training from Juniper and other business partners in the past, and we believe this year’s offering will be just as successful.

 Intro to Windows Command Line and PowerShell 3.0

 “Intro to Windows Command Line and PowerShell 3.0” has perhaps the most interesting backstory.  This track evolved out of a grassroots discussion during the Summer Working Connections track covering Windows Server 2012.  That class required some level of Command Line and PowerShell knowledge and most of the attendees were rusty on those skills.  The question was then posed to us: why not offer a track that provides an overview “brush up” on Command Line and PowerShell?  The attendee who posed the question volunteered to teach it.   This was not a topic on our internal list of possible topics.  That 16 people registered for this track (making it by far the most popular track) has surprised us.  It’s a good reminder that sometimes you have to follow the needs of the faculty rather than try and lead the way.  This track provides attendees with a background on the roots of command line interfaces and core skills in the Windows CLI.  GUI (graphical user interface, aka “point and click”) makes computers usable for the populace, but the command line is the IT professional’s power tool-kit.

Selecting Working Connections tracks is both art and science.  You conduct your market research, survey your past attendees, talk to your educator peers and business contacts, and make your best guess.  But there are human factors involved that you can’t always predict.  Not every track pulls in attendees.  We have had to cancel tracks that weren’t pulling in enough attendees to make it worth the expense.

But this Winter, we’re happy to say that all four tracks will run as scheduled!  This time around, we chose wisely.

What leads you to offer the curriculum you offer?

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