FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 5, 2003
CONTACT: Norma Kent
202/728-0200, ext. 209
Lynn Barnett, ext. 204
Community College Faculty Deliver Advanced Technology Skills to Students Through 10 New Regional Training Institutes: Microsoft, Community Colleges and National Technology Workforce Center Help Close Gap between Classroom and Workplace
Washington, D.C. – Community and technical colleges comprise the largest sector of higher education and are considered a critical link in preparing the number of skilled IT workers needed by business and industry to remain globally competitive. Yet most colleges are feeling the effects of a faltering economy, requiring a balance between rapidly growing enrollments of displaced workers and decreasing budgets.
As a response to that challenge, an alliance has been formed between Microsoft Corporation, the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) and Bellevue Community College’s National Workforce Center for Emerging Technologies (NWCET) to create the Working Connections IT Faculty Development Institute which will provide by summer 2003 advanced professional development training at 10 regional institutes involving 400 colleges – representing almost one-third of all community and technical colleges in the United States.
AACC President George R. Boggs notes that current budgetary crises within the states make the timing of this new faculty development initiative even more important. “At a time when higher education dollars are being slashed and some colleges are having to cut programs or faculty, it is essential that new ways to support faculty development be advanced. We are grateful that Microsoft continues to demonstrate the level of commitment to community and technical colleges that they have shown over the last six years,” Boggs said.
The IT industry and educators see keeping faculty current on new technologies as one of the largest challenges in IT education.
“At community colleges, there is an 18- to 24-month lag between the time a new technology is introduced into the marketplace and when it is taught in the classroom, said Bruce Brooks, Director of Microsoft Community Affairs. “The IT Faculty Development Institute was created to ensure that community college faculty were not put at a disadvantage and an optimum learning experience was being offered to the students.”
The Working Connections IT Faculty Development Institute was launched in March 2002, when Microsoft committed $1.3 million to the effort. Microsoft is inviting other industry leaders to join the training partnership as co-sponsors of the Institute.
Over a four-year cycle, the Working Connections IT Faculty Development Institutes are designed to reach 90 percent of all IT faculty in community and technical colleges.
The first 10 institutes will be hosted by Bellevue Community College (Wash.); Borough of Manhattan Community College (N.Y.); Central Piedmont Community College (N.C.); Cerritos Community College (CA); Collin County Community College District and Richland College (Texas); Daytona Beach Community College, Miami-Dade Community College, Seminole College, and Valencia Community College (Fla.); Henry Ford Community College (Mich.), Illinois Community College Board and Lincoln Land Community College (Ill.); Kentucky Community and Technical College System (Ky.); and Northern Virginia Community College (Va.).
The Working Connections Faculty Development Institute is a natural expansion of the AACC/Microsoft Working Connections partnership that began in 1998 to develop model IT training programs nationwide with a special emphasis on recruiting and serving underserved populations. Microsoft has donated $50 million in cash and software to date.
The Working Connections program will be included this year as a Laureate in the Computerworld Honors Program an initiative between leaders of the information technology industry and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. Case studies included in the collection will be distributed this spring to museums, libraries and research institutions worldwide.
Based in Washington, D.C., the American Association of Community Colleges is a national association representing the nation’s 1,151 accredited community, junior, and technical colleges. The colleges comprise the largest sector of higher education, serving almost half (45 percent) of U.S. undergraduates, an estimated 10 million students each year.
The National Workforce Center for Emerging Technologies leads education, business and government in developing a skilled information technology workforce for the new economy. The center has developed nationally recognized and validated information-technology skill standards, which comprehensively describe the skills, knowledge and attributes required of workers in the new economy. Through its Educator to Educator Institute, NWCET also provides educators at all levels with professional development in the area of information technology.