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Working Connections IT Faculty Development Institute

 Nationwide Plan For Faculty Development In IT 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 29, 2002

CONTACT: Norma Kent
202/728-0200, ext. 209
nkent@aacc.nche.edu
Lynn Barnett, ext. 204


Alliance to develop national system for community college faculty development in information Technology: Effort will promote state-of-the-art education for students seeking technical careers

 
Washington, D.C. -- Three corporate and educational leaders have formed an alliance to develop, for the first time ever, a systematic, nationwide plan for community and technical college faculty development in the field of information technology (IT).

The alliance includes Microsoft Corporation, the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), and Bellevue Community College’s National Workforce Center for Emerging Technologies (NWCET).

Microsoft announced today the establishment of the Working Connections IT Faculty Development Institute, founded with AACC and NWCET, to implement the national training plan.  

Microsoft has committed $1.3 million plus software over two years to this education-industry partnership and hopes to see other companies join as co-sponsors of the Institute. For the first time, faculty teaching IT courses in community colleges will be able to keep up with the fast-paced changes in technology, ensuring that students seeking technical jobs receive state-of-the-art training.

"The single biggest obstacle that community and technical colleges face is the ability to train faculty on the software the industry is currently using," said Bruce Brooks, director of Community Affairs for Microsoft.  "Typically there is an 18- to 24-month lag time between the time new technology is introduced in the marketplace and its adoption into academia--a serious issue this alliance aims to aggressively address. Today's announcement is also part of a broader effort to help bridge the digital divide by providing teachers and students with the tools and technologies they need to truly realize their potential."

"Most community colleges have become proficient at upgrading hardware in order to maintain the quality of IT instruction," said George R. Boggs, president of AACC.  "The single biggest obstacle they face now in IT is an inability to adequately train faculty in the software that industry is currently using.  This initiative will help upgrade current IT faculty and develop new faculty to teach emerging technologies.  It is especially important now as many colleges face a surge of faculty retirements, and we are grateful to Microsoft for making this new program possible. It is another key step in their long-standing support for education through the AACC."

The new program recognizes the importance of technology in today’s economy and the need for a skilled workforce, including many individuals from populations now under-represented in IT jobs.  Community colleges are recognized as the leading IT training IT Faculty Development providers.  However, faculty and college presidents have consistently cited the difficulty of keeping faculty skills up to date as one of their biggest challenges.  The new program aims to bridge that gap.

"The purpose of the new effort is to provide early training for instructors on emerging IT workforce requirements," said Duncan Burgess, director of the Educator-to-Educator Institute at the National Workforce Center for Emerging Technologies.  "Ultimately, we expect to provide an ongoing nationwide platform through which faculty will be trained before or immediately after new technology is released."  

The new Institute is a natural expansion of the AACC/Microsoft Working Connections partnership that began in 1998.  Working Connections helps develop model IT programs across the nation, with a special emphasis on recruiting and serving underserved populations.  Microsoft has donated $64 million in cash and software to date.   

The Working Connections IT Faculty Development Institute concept is based on a successful training model used in Washington state.  The first phase of the new effort will expand that model to Texas in 2002 and to eight more states in 2003.  Training in Texas will be provided at Richland College in Dallas.  Nationally, approximately 15,000 IT instructors at 1,100 community colleges could benefit when the Institute is fully rolled out.  It will also benefit up to 100,000 students in the first two years.  AACC will manage the program and NWCET’s Educator to Educator Institute will serve as primary contractor.

"AACC and NWCET have a solid track record in IT workforce development training.  This partnership will give us the opportunity to create a vehicle for disseminating nationally the best practices in IT education," says Linda Testa, community affairs program manager at Microsoft.

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The American Association of Community Colleges is a national association of two-year community, junior, and technical colleges. Based in Washington, DC, the association represents 1,100 accredited institutions enrolling more than 10 million students nationwide.

The National Workforce Center for Emerging Technologies holds a federal mandate to lead education, business and government in developing a skilled information technology workforce for the new economy. The Center has developed the only nationally recognized and validated information-technology skill standards, which comprehensively describe the skills, knowledge and attributes required of knowledge workers in the new economy. Through its Educator to Educator Institute, the Center also provides educators at all levels with professional development in the area of information technology.

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