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Examining businesses' needs lead to IT security program

(From left) Dawn Rohm, Fox Valley Technical College IT instructor; Anne Haberkorn, associate dean of IT and distance education at the college; and mentor Jaishri Mehta, then principal investigator of CyberWatch West.

​Fox Valley Technical College in Appleton, Wisc., got a new IT security certificate program up and running via MentorLinks. When it started, 10 students took the course the first semester. By this fall, enrollment grew to 33 students.

The industry advisory committee convened at the suggestion of mentor Jaishri Mehta helped the faculty figure out what the college should offer in the new certificate program. Mehta served as principal investigator of CyberWatch West when it was located at Mount San Antonio College in Walnut, Calif. 

In addition to responding to employers’ input, IT instructor Dawn Rohm led a lesson study. She and her colleagues studied topics that regional business leaders suggested to cover in the new certificate, and they observed their colleagues’ teaching. The team focused on identifying activities that enhance students’ visual learning because they wanted to understand how instructors know whether students understand new content.

Applications for the next round of MentorLinks colleges and mentors will be available in late February on AACC's MentorLinks webpage.

“Making learning visible is not easy, but it does give great insights,” said Anne Haberkorn, associate dean of IT and distance education. 

She noted that the lesson study has increased community-wide recognition that IT is a priority; she expects other new activities to emerge from the lesson study. Already, the study’s results have been shared with general education instructors to inform their pedagogy.

A strong foundation

Mehta’s meeting with the college’s chief IT officer during her MentorLinks campus visit encouraged innovations in campus operations. The administration has also committed to provide additional support to improve the college’s IT infrastructure and to develop a targeted marketing campaign to build enrollment in the IT security certificate program.

MentorLinks colleges grow STEM programs

Haberkorn explained that because of the positive MentorLinks experience, the IT team may do other lesson studies, and the team is considering ways to broaden its existing community activities to recruit and retain people in IT careers.