BATEC Leadership Team has created a document which concisely details what we are about. Referred to as “BATEC on a Page”, this document has served to focus us on activities and results that we can document and evaluate for effectiveness and impact within education, industry and community.
BATEC has made significant progress in creating and modifying curriculum that closely aligns with industry skills while employing innovative teaching methodologies that explicitly integrate analytical and employability skills to develop student competence in broader workplace knowledge and capabilities. Summits with business and industry partners identify key elements and drivers that need to be addressed in various technical areas. Faculty members across partner institutions then integrate these concepts within their curriculum; develop modules, reusable learning objects and other resources to be shared across institutions; and exchange best practices. During an initial pilot class conducted at a local college using these pioneering techniques, a 50% reduction in attrition was seen, and student feedback indicated that they were more engaged in learning and benefited from teamwork activities and problem solving in a simulated work environment.
BATEC provides extensive professional development to faculty. Through its annual ICT Futures Forum, hosted by Staples Corporation in 2004 and 2006-2009 and Sun Microsystems in 2005, over 300 educators have been introduced to relevant information technologies and services that are driving our local industries. During this annual daylong event, industry experts, through keynotes, panels and hands-on workshops, highlight the regional IT landscape, including projected job opportunities and skill needs. Summer Institutes provide intensive training in new and emerging technologies, skills standards-based curriculum development, and case study methodologies. Finally, industry-sponsored externships allow faculty the opportunity to dive into the business world and experience the impact of teamwork, service and communications as they are applied to common business situations and decision-making. Educators can then use this knowledge to hone the skills of their students and relate content to real world applications.
Because of the dynamic nature of the technologies, students increasingly weave in and out of the education and workforce arena, often confused by the plethora of options and discouraged by redundant or mismatched course offerings. Recognizing that educational pathways in IT do not just follow a linear progression from a high school diploma to an associates degree at the community college and a bachelors degree or beyond at the university, BATEC education partners are actively reviewing, revising and creating articulation agreements for IT-related programs that include guidance for student program planning and communication of course and program requirements. This process is facilitating new inter-institutional cooperation at the executive level as well as with admissions, advising and career services. BATEC also recognizes that currently underserved populations need assistance in entering the education environment. Building upon work that is occurring with the Technology Goes Home Program at local Community Development Centers, BATEC established a Pilot Career Ladder Education Program known as The Bridge to Community College in July 2005. This program continues to provide adult learners with two credit-bearing technology courses coupled with tutoring in pre-college mathematics and English. Participants earn up to six college credits, have preparation for the college placement tests, and matriculate into a community college degree or certificate program.
A final example of our work is in the programming area. Several exciting accomplishments have occurred. Robert Cohen, Assistant Professor in Computer Science and Co-PI at UMass, led a student team in designing programming curriculum and tools to help blind students learn CS and help all CS students understand issues related to accessibility for the disabled. This effort has been recognized by many academic organizations including SIGCSE (Special Interest Group for Computer Science Education) as well our National Visiting Committee. He also has worked diligently to identify more successful transitions for CS students. This led to work on a more applied programming sequence at UMB that is being positively received in this semester’s pilot. Professor Cohen is also working with a Professor at Bunker Hill to build expertise in programming with Python and to enhance success and transferability.
BATEC is focusing on successful student engagement through several initiatives. Student Leaders are being utilized at each partner institution to assist in recruitment, retention and career areas. These students provide needed resources as well as a unique perspective in attracting under-served student populations. Mini-Tech Fairs are being held at local colleges to help high school students become acquainted with their campuses, programs and support services. A High Tech College Fair for over 600 high school juniors features representatives from colleges across the region that offer majors in computer science, engineering, graphic design, multimedia and related areas. While at the fair, students also attend mini-workshops on the college application process, financial aid, and pre-college counseling resources. Finally, students are given opportunities to train under IT professionals in the Tech Apprentice Program
Through all of these endeavors, BATEC is creating a working model for ongoing collaboration between academia, industry, and community that connects all stakeholders and delivers clear, demonstrable benefits to ensure continued support and collaboration into the future.