Professional Development

Be A Digital Disruptor with FFC and IT Services

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On 4/17/19 at 11:00am, I attended the Wake Technical Community College Spring Professional Development Conference Session: Be A Digital Disruptor with FFC and IT Services. This was presented by Ryan Schwiebert, Benita Budd, Neal Stidham, Tracy Naleway, and Monique Williamson of Wake Technical Community College

Be A Digital Disruptor with FFC and IT Services

We began with a brief educational game getting to know one another in the group and finding the close connections with teaching and campuses. it was pretty fun, but there were several of us in here, so it took a minute.


Technology has significantly changed the way we interact with our world!

Students interact differently!

  • U.S. smartphone users grew to more than 230 million in 2018 (that is about 70% of the population) (Statista)
  • 20% of households with an annual income less than $30k have smartphones without any other type of broadband. (Pew Research)
  • Wake County has set a goal to increase the availability affordable high-speed connectivity county wide. (County Commissioners)
  • Ubiquitous campus wi-fi connectivity is EXPECTED by students! (Based on student surveys)

Student technology expectations have increased

  • Every student in Wake County Public Schools is provided a computer for course work.
  • Students want to interact and collaborate through technology tools
  • Students are accustomed to receiving constant feedback. 24/7!

We have take some steps to address growing expectations:

  • Wake Tech Online is the largest “campus” with 9,867 students in spring 2017 (8,123 students enrolled at Main Campus)
  • We have several programs completely online Associate 16, Diploma 3, and Certificate 76
  • We have also improved connectivity on campus.

This transformative technology movement is known as DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION


To be successful, our institution must begin evaluating our business processes and changing/adapting them to the digital world.

DISRUPTION IS POSSIBLE: If we do not meet this challenge, others will.

Why is this important?

Consider other industries that have changed:

  • Internet->Travel Agents
  • Napster->Music Industry
  • Amazon-> Retail Industry
  • Netflix -> Video Rentals
  • Streaming Services -> Broadcast Television
  • Taxi -> Uber (The largest taxi service in the world/owns no vehicles)
  • Hotel -> AirBNB (The largest lodging service/owns no real estate)

Most recently:

  • Google introduced cloud training certificate programs – for programmers and anyone interested
  • Amazon’s released ‘Machine Learning University’ – available to all developers
  • Gartner identified Higher Education as a growth sector for technology usage.

The first to successfully achieve this will become market leaders.

Today we are hear to explore how might we adapt to ensure our industry is not disrupted.


Lets explore the benefits of digital transformation

Enhanced Competiveness

  • Competition for students has increased in Higher Ed. If we don’t attract students, we will see declining enrollments.
  • For profit institutions have increased dramatically.
  • We compete with other public institutions.

Higher Enrollments

  • It has become difficult to maintain enrollment growth.
  • Public funding for higher education is shrinking.
  • We are continually asked to do more with less.
  • WE should entice the students to come

Better Student Experience

  • The customer experience is often stressed in business/time for Higher Ed. to embrace
  • Student needs and expectations should be a priority
  • Students have a lot of choices!
  • A new focus on future employability.

Technology Works Together

  • Technology and college processes should work together seamlessly.
  • We should not expect the student to conform to an antiquated process.
  • Technology should be easily accessed and interacted with

This was adapted from an article recently published by Educause. Have a look at this article and several others they have. read, attend online seminars and embrace this.

Establishing a digital foundation

  1. Pilot with interactive displays in the classrooms (mostly south campus, a few at North). THis iss a collaboration with faculty, staff and ITS
  2. Conference Room Upgrades. WE are lagging behind. Through teams and conferences we shouldn’t have to campus travel.
  3. Wi-fi Upgrades. We moved away from old systems to Arube systems and we monitor this. Often this is when students congregate. we are asking students to spread out, but we’re looking to upgrade and work with this. We are looking to update to outdoors and parking locations. Once you’re connected on campus, we’d like you to continue to be connected.
  4. New network infrastructure. We’ve upgraded on all campuses, and are upgrading the fibre connections. We have an achilles heel- if southern campus is down, all campuses are down. RTP is redundant and independent. Soon others will also be seperated. If a fibre should be separated, all will be fine
  5. New network infrastructure. We’re focusing more on efficiency and optimization: In the traditional mode, processes should be agile. if the IT items do not work all the time, we have problems. we’re experimenting and dealing with uncertainty. This will mean an acceptance of failure but still have standards.


The future growth of Wake Tech depends on our ability to adapt.

Now is the time to explore new ways of using technology.

  • We are looking to faculty to help identify those opportunities

Experimentation allows us to determine new and effective ways of teaching

  • This supports the applied benchmarking concept of continual improvement.

Technology can provide alternative learning methods

  • We need to test the effectiveness of these methods to see if they should be implemented collegewide.

Proper use of technology will put students at the center of the learning process.

  • Students are the reason we are here!

By enhancing faculty teaching methods, learning can be improved.

  • Faculty expertise is pivotal to ensuring success.



We have spent the past 3 years establishing our foundation

  • Think Maslow’s hierarchy for technology
  • Ryan’s hierarchy of technology needs!
  • Here are some of the highlights!

Interactive Displays

  • Currently piloting interactive displays for classroom and meeting use.
  • A standard will be developed based on faculty and staff feedback.

Conference Room Upgrades

  • Our goal is to simplify these spaces to make it easier for everyone to use.
  • Providing more tools for collaboration/communication
  • Also implementing Microsoft Teams for web meetings
  • Hoping to reduce campus travel.

Wi-Fi Upgrades

  • Wireless access was a hot button issue for students.
  • We completed the upgrade college wide
  • We are continually adding additional access points.
  • Plans are underway to add wi-fi connectivity to outside spaces

New Network Infrastructure

  • We have redesigned our network infrastructure to reduce single points of failure
  • The intent is to increase resiliency and redundancy
  • Each campus will be independently connected to the Internet
  • We will also be upgrading fiber between buildings and upgrading old wiring.


Our challenge is to continue operations as we innovate and experiment!

In a traditional mode:

  • Rigid processes
  • More governance
  • Low failure acceptance

In contrast innovation requires an agile mode:

  • High acceptance of failure
  • Some governance
  • Open Processes

To address this at Wake Tech, ITS has adopted a Bi-Modal IT leadership structure.

  • Mode 1 is the operational portion.
  • Mode 2 is the strategy and innovation.

The two must still work together.

  • New innovations are tested in an agile mode.
  • If accepted/successful they are eventually shifted to traditional operation.


Collaboration is at the cornerstone of any great organization.

So, lets work together to improve technology adoption college wide!

ITS will serve as

  • your partner and technology expert

Faculty and staff input and involvement is welcome

  • IT needs you to be our partner
  • serve as classroom and teaching experts.

We want to be a technology leader in higher education. IT will focus on technology solutions that benefit student learning. IT needs a seat at the table, early and often.

Think of ITS when working on new ideas!


As you can see, a lot of work as gone into preparing for our digital transformation journey. Now that the foundation has been established, we are ready to explore new technology opportunities in the classroom.  We need your input because the possibilities are endless!


Poll Title: What tools do you prefer to use when teaching online or in the classroom? You can vote on the preferences submitted.

Poll answers were as follows:

  1. Cellphones – 4 (looking up words, fact checking, who’s going to look this up?)
  2. teams – 3 (videos, small groups, want to use this…)
  3. ipads – 3 (apple TV and ipad instead of flipping back and forth- crossplatform presenations- you could eliminate screens to give everyone a device)
  4. ppt – 3
  5. – 2
  6. kahoot – 2
  7. flipgrid – 2
  8. tablets in lab


Poll Title: What benefits will faculty gain from digital transformation at Wake Tech?

Poll Answers were as follows:

  2. yammer
  3. teams
  4. online lecture and video for online classes
  5. flipgrid



Teams is a collaboration tool. Most people use it extensively. Its a collaboration tool like skype and video recording. Zoom is very similar. Teams uses filesharing as well. Is this like slack? it is like slack, but does more.

Interactive Displays

The technology has come a long way. Some classroom have it. Its a Wake Tech PC back there. You’ll see this more

LAN school

You can take student screens, interact with single or multiple students in classes, and will be coming in the future. is a flood of information and easy to follow. This has good PD credits opportunities and students also have access to this is another great site from They are unbiased information sources. This takes you behind the firewall, and gives you access to all the data. This is great for research, and its available to students as well.

As you can see, a lot of work as gone into preparing for our digital transformation journey. Now that the foundation has been established, we are ready to explore new technology opportunities in the classroom.  We need your input because the possibilities are endless!


Question and Answer Section

Q: labs in the class need assistance sharing information. How can he share data in the class?

A: Off the top of Tracey’s head- the answer will be teams. Add in items on teams and display that using teams.

Our Next Mission

Recruit other agents to room 149, and test out the materials. walk through some of the tools and items you’ve seen here. The first place winner won a small prize. A second prize was given out to a participant who offered to hold their fee to the fire.

I think this went along very well, and everybody seemed engaged. Well done!


Faculty Association Breakfast Meeting

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On 4/17/19 at 8:00am, I attended the Wake Technical Community College Spring Professional Development Conference Session: Faculty Association Breakfast Meeting. This was co-presented by  Kathrynne Paul and Kimberly Atkinson of Wake Technical Community College

Faculty Association Breakfast Meeting

Know your senators

Request initiative on budget items

Collaborative Council rundown with Debbie Manness. Will students see attendance, how will we know of new initiatives? Starfish is going away?

The council is a new thing, and everyone was unsure how to proceed. students and association waiting for admin to proceed, and admin waiting for students and faculty to proceed. You can send questions on go portal

Does the college faculty want january PD day on January 2nd, 2020 to be a PD day, or a break day. PD Day may be taken away and another may be added in May. No negative impact will happen.

Question: 2 days added to schedule for May which are originally set as break days. Some people are extremely upset at lost break days which were set as mandatory summer days. Some people only found out 2 weeks ago, and now they are in breach of contract. The new days are removed from 12 month faculty. What can individuals do?

It was brought to our attention that Dr. Green and VP Dietrich had headed up these changes. The original plan was 8-10 days removed, and we’ve been able to reduce this to only 2 days removed. How did the calendar committee not know? This should come down from the system office. The calendar committee was unaware of the situation. While this doesn’t answer the question, you should talk with your immediate supervisors such as department heads and deans. It is a problem as break days are not marked on the calendar directly.

A Legacy of EPIC Success in Online Education

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On 4/17/19 at 8:35am, I attended the Wake Technical Community College Spring Professional Development Conference Session: Faculty Association Breakfast Meeting. This was co-presented by  Kathrynne Paul and Kimberly Atkinson of Wake Technical Community College

A Legacy of EPIC Success in Online Education

SPARK Initiative intro. Wake Tech continues to play a role in economic development in the community. Billions realized in local economy come from our workforce, and that comes from our students, and that credit belongs to the teachers.

Cameron, a student success

Student Success story talked about Heating and HVAC. Getting a 3.7GPA when they had done less well in high school. He gave a great shout out to the ILC on Main campus helping with papers. He was very thankful to the Pathway program, helping him as a mentor and becoming a “people person”.  He started as an employee, but wanted to move into a business ownership. He’s managed NC Express Heating and Cooling for some time and growing his business in a great way.

Tim Guffy, a student success story

First responder with the Raleigh fire department, and part of a 2+2 program, graduating last year. Fire Protection Technology had a ton of networking and comforting person-to-person contact experience. This made his ability to move on in his education and settle in the career goal of his choice.

Presentations were given to Cameron and Tim, small tokens of our esteem from the Professional Development committee as well as certificates of appreciation.

EPIC Update

Jaqueline Popp presented as the assessment team lead about EPIC. After a 5-year initiative, how can you measure success? We were finalists in the Bellwether Award, and several team members were recognized. It was a great recognition. Over 30,000 attempted, 95% of students passed, and 89% noted that they felt their skills have increased. 630+ faculty and staff have been certified online, 44+ have passed a peer review process, 39+ have been certified as mentors, and 29+ have achieved Master Certification.

We haven’t seen the full effect yet. WE’ll see more success as time goes on. It is difficult to see full success as not all classes have been converted to EPIC readiness. This is mainly a concern in the early classes and gateway courses. There are reports written for every year, and they should be viewed if interested in how comparisons are made and observed. Most student responses are positive. Faculty complained about numerous surveys and there was survey fatigue which contributed to lesser completions as time went on so they’ve stopped doing that.

There were external reviewers and external takers of the EPIC materials. EPIC will continue, and a sustainability plan is in development. Until we’ve fully implemented, look to see changes and adjustments as time goes on. The EPIC team will be shutting down shortly. One thing EPIC has done is given our students some consistent habits. Students struggle with time management, and EPIC assists with that.

Townhall Session with Dr. Ralls

Marsha McCoy, communications faculty and member of ToastMasters, as well as her TED Talk.

Ralls is our newest president, previous president of NOVA. President of Craven Community College. Created a new technology division, grew their cybersecurity program and built the first cloud computing degree program with Amazon. He was a former president of NC Community College System Office. He has numerous awards, as well as a recipient of the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, NC highest civilian award.

Q: Are community colleges still a good deal in the first 2 years? Average student carries $10k debt for 2 year colleges, $14K debt standard for Wake Tech students. The average 4-year student carries $28K in debt.

A: Be wary of statistics and averages. Geography majors had the largest average salaries. He graduated with Michael Jordan, a geography major. Be proud, diligent, and fight for our students. In the last 10 years, student debt has doubled. Students carry more debt than years before. They carry student debt instead of housing debt. Millenials are not buying houses. North Carolina has in its constitution that higher education should be as free as possible. Ralls is an advocate of debt-free higher education. Averages for tuition allows a student to work 10 hours a week at minimum wage and still pay for their education.

Q:What impactful changes should we see under your leadership in the short run and long run 

A: In the past, he was impacted by technology. People struggle with technology because the big dogs have to mark their territory. As a president, he should not immediately leave a mark or make a change. Rather than implementing change right away, get the best knowledge first so as not to make a mistake. There need to be short term and long term changes. Rather than comment and make mistakes, he wants to get the lay of the land. There are not problems on the whole. But here’s some perspective:

He’s been a collegiate leader for 20 years. He believes in the unique role in upward mobility for students in community colleges. Economic mobility has always been our issue in NC and its still an issue. Money is more of a segmentor instead of an integrator. We should be inclusive and proud of it. We should be proud that we take the top 100% of our students. That’s what people need from us.

To be effective, we have to be very good. No one states that they dream of an associates degree. But 25% of HS students and 10% of adults in the county come through our school to reach their dreams. The best jobs we do is when we identify and clear those paths and assist them on their way to the goals. More will come to our institution than any other in Wake County.

Q: Will we be required to complete annual applied benchmarking under your leadership.

A: One thing he does and enjoys is to pop into offices. He’s heard faculty members tell him that applied benchmarking creates a culture of innovation. The process each year is so sped up that the focus is on the process, not the solution. We should not be defined by process, but on the goals. It may be that 1 year is too rapid. He does not know. He’s only been here 4 days. We should always evaluate a process and ensure that it helps us to the goal and isn’t being done for its own sake

Q: How would you foster research initiatives and innovation?

A: I see research is already in the mix. Without a culture of innovation, you’re dying in education. Research is a byproduct of the culture of innovation. You learn from looking out side the institution, listening where the rubber meets the road. We should all have ideas, and ideas should be disseminated from there. He would not like to break anything and certainly not the culture of innovation

Q: scholarship on campus is here. How can we incorporate this into everyone’s work, and how can a budget be added.

A: I’m going to avoid that question. I am unfamiliar with the project, with the budget, etc. He doesn’t have the info and expertise to answer the question.

Q: What do you see are the college biggest challenges?

A: Usually its financial, but I don’t think that’s the case. More likely, it will be dealing with slowing growth. There has been several years of growth. The county is growing, but its not growing like it was. Growth trends are now pretty flat. That’s a good challenge because its not a major drop. We’re likely heading into stability, and that creates new challenges because we don’t have the money (bad news).

We may need to look to retention to be the answer. We’ll need to pay attention, because colleges are used to naturally growing. Economic circumstances change, and we’ll need to worry about a new definition.

Q: Do you plan on evaluating faculty pay to be commisserate with 4-year pay. Low pay leads to excessive turnover.

A: I think I will be fighting for faculty pay for quite some time. It is not a question of equality. the problem becomes the discrepency with working here and for graduates. when its a bump to walk out as a graduate and receive more than the teacher, that’s a major problem. Faculty don’t want to leave, but they are having their salaries doubled. The challenge isn’t hitting the market rate, just to hit the spouse approval rate. I’d work for you, but I cannot tell my wife how much money I’ll make.

Students need knowledgeable faculty. That’s why faculty pay is important.

Q: Do you see faculty tenure installed here?

A: No. There are certain traditional academic ideas which are bad ideas. There are items which are better sells, such as better salaries. Academic salary for research is important, but it cannot be done well without tenure. You earn tenure by researching and publishing in the first six years. We are not built around those items. Its not in our flavor.

ON the flip side, there is no need to have a culture and climate to feel uncomfortable with Ralls being there. Do the right job for your students and you have no fear.

Q: How does faculty governance fit your vision?

A: Faculty-lead decision making. He didn’t have collective decision making. That was a challenge for them because colleges would threaten not to take course credit? What is important is to have structures to allow groups to get together and make decision.

In the SPARK strategic plan, the AACC report lead with principals to evolve CC from idiosyncratic decision to collective decisions. Defaulting to idiosyncractic decision cause problems. Department chair says that only credits for world history should be allowed will cause problems for students. Decisions should be faculty-lead, not leader-based.

Q: Dr. Ralls, if faculty morale is low, we would like your help finding solutions. Have you had issues like this in the past?

A: He has. Morale is like taking temperature. The numbers mean little or nothing without context. What are the specific issues? Morale changes one day to the next. Organizational climate and culture is important. Does the climate add or subtract to our emotions, opinions, etc. What are the things which are causing the challenges? Are they in or out of control? Sometimes there’s no good way. Some things impact morale in ways which seem little.

Morale is not about how you feel now, but how we are challenged and thrive, feeling good about what we do and how we feel about what we’re doing. He wants to work in a good morale location

Q: what is your place on remote work in the workplace

A: computers give flexibility. With flexibility, as long as we’re meeting the needs of the students, you’re fine. A culture of professionalism means values which are important. If the needs of students are being met, don’t impress him by leaving after he sneaks out the door. We need to police one another for professionalism.

Where this breaks down is by letting one another down. Office hours can be a problem. Rules for everything becomes a problem- rule-driven cultures are not good. Professionalism cultures are best. Small rules are troubling.

For years, there were issues with annual leave for staff. You should only have vacation and leave days which are equal among employees. At the end of the day, auditors had to come in and now laws have had to be put in place. We do a job not because of a rule, but because of our levels of professionalism. Don’t get caught up in rules, but be caught up in professionalism.

Q: Any thoughts on communication

A: He would aspire to a forum 1-2 hours at each campus once per semester, just so he can have dialog and conversation.

Q: How should changes be communicated?

A: student-focused and faculty-lead. Not idiosyncratically. You should have the decisions to teach things the way they are taught best.  I will always respect the classroom. I respect the classroom process and he’s a distraction. When looking at student curriculum, each step should be clear and lead you somewhere. If we don’t hit the target, and students transfer, that’s a big problem for them. IF they don’t have job skills in the workplace, that’s a big problem for them.

Q: Faculty staffing model: Adjunct or full-time models? Adjuncts do not have office hours.

A: I don’t intend to change anything about that. The needs of all programs are different. Having a strong cadre of full-time faculty is important. Full-time faculty push the programs forward. It wasn’t about teaching the students in the classroom. We get good value from adjuncts, but that experience is very helpful. We need to pay attention because not all colleges are strong in how they orient adjunct faculty.

Adjuncts are just as much a professor as a full-time professor. How we support adjuncts is very important

Q: How do you feel about certifications for faculty and supporting credentials for faculty?

A: behind it completely. 35% of jobs ask for certifications and licensures. you need to be knowledgeable and tell whether the value is real. You need to tell students and know about it. If we work with certification and pay faculty, we don’t need to offer certifications which do not add value. We have live data letting us know what certifications are helpful.

We are not an elite college. The biggest day for most students is the day they are admitted, not graduation. Walking off stage is nice, but demonstrating what they know is as relevant in the workplace.

Q: How do you feel about a reading day for students and faculty?

A: Not going to answer that. Don’t have the information about those items, what might the unintended consequences be?

Q: Across the nation, Community colleges offer Bachelors degrees. What are your thoughts.

A: I am not against BA degrees if its for the right reasons. For some it has to do with hiring and magnet rates, safety, etc. Is the value provided better from a Comm College and 4-year college. There are rationales, but there have to be reasons. Half states have them, started in Florida. Only 4 states allow this. There is a fight in higher education about who can offer these items and why.

One thing to be careful about in this conversation is not to get caught up in the ghiher education arms race. Its not because of an inferiority complex. Every regional wants to be a flagships school. Every flagship wants to be a harbor school.

Otherwise, we’ll get chopped off at the knees because funders don’t want to cover that, and we’ll be challenged in numerous ways. We should lead not with inferiority, but from grassroots efforts. No one is doing research or policy research. we have the strongest university system in the country and this will always be more challenging for us.

Q: It has been rumored, that in the future faculty will be put in the same category as staff. Staff accrue PTO and faculty do not.

A: Won’t happen because of purely technical reasons. Staff earned leave and faculty do not. What we should do? Don’t know a reason to do this. If there is a rumor, he’d like to hear it. At James Sprunt in a previous college a faculty had earned 20 bonus days. These days were not accepted by Wake Technical Community College. Bonus days are problematic.

Using Real-Life Clients in the Classroom

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On 2/24/19 at 1:15pm, I presented at the North Carolina Community College Fine Arts Conference with the Session Using Real-Life Clients In The Classroom at the Meroney Theater in Salisbury, NC. This was co-presented by Carla Osborne of Wake Technical Community College


Using Real-Life Clients in the Classroom

At this event, we discussed the ability to work with clients in our classrooms, from beginning to end. This process included setting out the fear involved with


you for attending our presentation this afternoon. I’m attaching the videos that were in the presentation with a short description:

Baking and Pastry Arts Introductions

Since the student chefs are on another campus, this was our way of introducing them to the graphic design students:

Client/Media Relations – Summer Session 2017

We have fun in our department and for this video we roped in one of our Networking instructors as the client:

Client/Media Relations – Summer Session 2018

For this video we recruited a theatre student from NCSU to play the part of the client for Beet Box:

Design Apps III

In this short video Julie Evans introduces the rebranding assignment for Joe Van Gogh

And here’s the interview with the owner:

We hope you found a few tips you could implement in your own classes. Please reach out if you have questions or if you would like to share your experiences with working with clients in your classes.

Training UP: Lifelong Learning In IT

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On 3/7/19 at 9:00am, I attended the North Carolina Computer Instructors Association Conference Session Training UP: Lifelong Learning In IT at the SCITECH Building at East Carolina University in Greenville, NC presented by Jill West, instructor at Georgia Northwestern community college.


Training UP: Lifelong Learning In IT

JIll West mentioned in the opening that she was very pleased with the NCCIA, and was interested in grabbing a similar conference in their area. Not quite sure how to do so, but she was very interested in making that happen.

Mostly, she is teaching intro to computers. It deals with a range of students from “no idea how to right-click” and others who “have built their own computers”. She can bring both psychology and cognitive psych to the table on thinking, learning, how do we process, learn and experience the world differently.

We started with some quick informational questions.

Myth or Truth?


Different learning styles and we learn best when taught to our best style.



If we continue to teach to the students, that’s how they learn. If you teach to the best way for the content, and also include several different modalities, you’ll find greater success. Especially if you’re using multiple different modalities.


Left-brained people think more logically?



People use one side of the brain more for specific tasks. Neither our personality characteristics nor cognition are determined by dominance.


Intelligence is fluid and can change based on mindset and environment?



Acknowledging a genuine effort and progress rather than their inborn talent encourages students to try harder and take more risks, which increases performance success.

Its important to see education as a journey, not a destination. View mistakes and setbacks as catalysts for growth without ignoring the need for standards of achievement.

Slide8Progression of technology. We’ve been teaching about technology that is older than the classes we’re teaching. Students that we’ve taught 10 years ago or 5 years ago are already outdated. How can we future-proof our students?

Learned some new techniques by practicing or using natural curiosity. What skills were I using? Audio, visual cues, experimentation, trial and error.


Are we learning things outside of our teaching-specific activities? What is it like getting back into the shoes of our students? Remember what its like for our students. As you’re looking at the class material, remember. When you leave here today, try to learn something new.


How do we get past those humps?

Monitor your own learning. Step back and say “here’s what I’m learning”, “what don’t I know”, “what do I need to learn what I don’t know?”. We need to be able to teach our students how to do this.

What did it feel like for you to learn. Why were you learning it? What worked best for you to learn it.


Progression of learning

We need to keep this learning going.


We learned a new skill in the class, an incapacitating hand grab

What was it like us?

Was it awkward to stand up? Was it awkward to touch anouther person? Was it awkward to learn an awkward skill set? How about walking through the steps? Who’s a germaphobe? Sometimes we couldn’t see what was happening. Sometimes there was a disconnect between what you wanted to do and what you saw or could do. Some people found it to be fun, engaging, and exciting. One said that they would not even know that they could do that. All these ideas could be seen in the classroom.

Was this something you wanted to learn? For some of us, yes. For others, not really. When the opportunity presents itself, it becomes fun. Did it take things outside of our comfort zone? Some of this becomes uncomfortable for others.


Stages of Competence

In the beginning, we don’t even know what we don’t know. From Naïve, we discover, and begin learning and putting in effort. It is here that we know we don’t know enough. From knowing things, we practice and move into competence (I know what I know and am improving) and eventually  it becomes muscle memory or second nature. That said, the hard part is that what we really need to do is use self-study and peer review to understand that I don’t know what I don’t know. This process of discovery allows us to repeat the learning process for ourselves.

How can I get the students to be motivated to get over the hump? Especially if they aren’t motivated.

“I was excited. My students, however, cannot be forced to be motivated and excited”

For some students, its overwhelming. When there is too much to know, learn, absorb, what should we do? In chemistry, this is called “tightering”. Make things easier and bring in materials a small piece at a time. Consider reframing this for students. It’s a great deal of information, it brings information, reframing this as a positive action.


Creating Momentum

How do we create momentum?

Share your passion. Why are you in IT? I like to learn, I like to see how things work? Why is it important to learn this material? Why should they be excited if they are not excited? Don’t be upset if you’re in it for the money. What is the motivation of the money? Successful? Provide for the kids and family? Keep taxes and society moving? You’ll make more money if you get better grades.

Help student develop their passion. Ask your students to go out and find out for themselves. Research shows that If you approach the problem as ”I’m going to help you tap into your skills and develop YOUR passion”.

Let students solve REAL problems. The best problems are the ones you don’t know the answers to. Here’s a real problem, I need a real solution. How did you do that? How can I ask the right questions to get to the right answers.

Highlight our purpose in IT (or design). Build up the people around us. Put this in a community context  and the purpose will help attract women to IT. If you can frame IT as a way to help people. This can draw more women



Fixed mindset is really about performance goals and showing off the abilities you have. Instead, use a growth mindset. Learning goals matter. Increase ability as a choice to increase what you know. Attribution teaory is  a major factor. To what do you attribute the loss or victory? How can you improve that?


How do you think?

Images, words, pictures, cause and effect. Picture your bedroom at home. What does it look like? If you cannot look at your room in your mind, you may have affentasia. Can you think what it would look like on the other side of the room? What if it were on the ceiling? What if all your walls were dark purple? Relying on pictures in your mind can be normal. Hyper affentasion is an awareness but not knowing how to see pictures which might be changing as above. Its not a disability, its just different.




Thinking about thinking. Students do not naturally know how to do this on the whole. Some students will have to be taught how to do this. The way to do this is to be really brutally honest with yourself.  How do I find my blindspots? How do I know how to do this?

Become aware of thoughts, make decisions about that information. Take ownership of the learning process: identify confusion along the way and at the end. Make informed decisions: think in terms of cause and effect.

What did you really think about this. Really think about it. What did you learn? Why did you learn that? How could you improve your learning of that?

Consider encouraging your students to take a myers-briggs test to get to know themselves. has a free one. does also.

For some students this can be an eye opening experience. Do you like working with people, how do you actually start thinking about things differently.

Engage courageously.


Bloom’s Taxonomy.

The farther we get in the understanding and context. The words tell us how deeply they need to know the material. Students need to know the different depths of understanding. We need to start helping them to understand that there are different ways and different depths of ways to know and understand materials.


How to teach metacognition.

Awareness:L explain metacognition and draw attention to thinking. Self Reflection: Ask students how they think. Ownership of learning: Ask students how they learn.

At what age does metacognition develop?

No piaget age can be given, but at age 4-5 they learn with questions, but at 4th grade, there is a large shift where they engage at an awareness level.  At the teen level, they may not have the full ability to understand everything. They can engage with the idea and let that build on the idea themselves. Give them the language and it will feed itself.


Desirable difficulties

Learning isn’t always easy ,and always shouldn’t be easy. Pre-testing- knowledge begets knowledge. They cannot pass the pretest, but prime the pump and help them to see that they don’t know everuthing, and help them to see what they don’t know. Concept a and concept b in the brain are related. If one is connected to the other, you can go forward and backward to make the connnecitons clear. They must have the connections. A few pieces fall into place, and while its uncomfortable at first, it will clean up and fall into place later. Knowledge begets knowledge.

Make mistakes.

Forgetting- and then remembering and restoring (learning loop) is a positive thing, it makes things better to learn

Procrastination (except absolute last minute) is the same as incubation

Interruption (especially at the worst time) is the same as percolation (zeigarnik effect). It is worked on items in the back of your brain and this allows you to move on to complete the materials more succinctly. Those who are interrupted often do better on the final.



Teach Critical Thinking Skills

Socratic questioning. Understand their thinking. Real your own questions. Answer back with questions.

Culture of curiosity. Problem-based learning. Never know it all

Self explanation. Link new learning to old knowledge. What is it that I still don’t understand.



Distributed Practice.

Spread studying over longer periods of time. Schedule repetitions, not every day, but spaced longer as time goes by. schedule re-exposure to information based on Wozniak’s calculation.


Interleaved Practice

It better to do a little of each thing, and spread the items out a little at a time. Learning needs to be connected to other ideas. As pieces are learned, they are connected in pieces and more is learned over time. Switching items back and forth are very helpful.


Self Testing

Students who tested themselves did better than those who studied fully and then tested. Put info in and practice taking it out.


Contextual Clues

Context both internal and external. Consistency vs. variety. These items allow us a backdoor connection to the material. If you’re tested in the same room, study in the room. Those who studied in different rooms, were able to test better in different rooms. Study in different places- home, coffee shop, school.


Becoming An Expert.


Set students on a path. Teach them to find themselves on the cutting edge by:

Reading the materials which are breaking news, and constantly updating their knowledge base by investigating materials on the internet.

Consider Certifications in their discipline. There are lots of different ways in which your students can learn, test their knowledge, get recognized as an expert, and otherwise seek out ways to test themselves and seek approval from outside sources in an effort to set yourself apart from the competition.

Seeking Involvement with the Community. Within each discipline, there is a community. Some are randoms and others are partially interested in the community. Others are movers and shakers, professionals working in the field, on top of the industry, and otherwise deeply involved in the industry. Still others are geeks, a thorough and distinct knowledge of the material to the Nth degree. Teach your students to interact with this community- through forums, websites, reddit, Q&A forums, discord servers, etc.

If they aren’t petrified of doing so, have them visit with some! Go to meetups, leads groups, and other items where people meet to discuss the best of their industry.

Go to Conventions. Conventions are places in which professionals from many industries get together to discuss items in their bailiwick. Mostly these are attended by industry professionals. This is the perfect way for students to hobnob with individuals on the cutting edge, hear about items of knowledge given to those people, and learn about new technologies which should be considered. This is a great way to go where the movers and shakers gather (for getting hired), and learn about skills which are being suggested as new standards. Its a great place to network!


Making Performance-Based Testing Work For Your Students

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On 3/7/19 at 9:00am, I attended the North Carolina Computer Instructors Association Conference Session Making Performance-Based Testing Work For Your Students at the SCITECH Building at East Carolina University in Greenville, NC presented by Amy Savino, product manager: IT/Networking/Cybersecurity at Cengage.


Making Performance-Based Testing Work For Your Students

Cengage is on a recent path to a deep dive to a more authentic, personal, intentional, inclusive content. They want to make students more employable, building the lifelong performance-based work.

This workshop was intended to be used for a roundtable conversion. This was primarily about certifications and whether students take them, why or why not, and what are the concerns of the students for sitting in the exams, particularly CompTIA exams.

This was quickly apparent that it was not about building these items into our classes with examples. This was not about how to create these kinds of questions, or how to expand existing content to fit into a mold where these would be helpful. Instead, this was an infomercial in which Cengage wanted to talk about their existing service. No one in the class used the service, or gave certifications with Microsoft or CompTIA. So, that was a bit of a bust. Many people were too polite to leave.

I took this time to bring up my concerns over examinations in general, especially Adobe ACA exams. I related my concerns in ways that hopefully they would consider.

The experience of taking a certification exam can be daunting for students, so having a campus center which is convenient is helpful. Students could conceivably study together, work together, and then travel over in a group to the location in relative safety and mental security. A large part of this is also the social aspect- having a social safety net if you fail, or a group with which to celebrate if they achieved a passing grade. Going alone to a testing center where they are not familiar, paying additional proctoring fees on top of testing fees can be awkward and slightly scary. Being alone in that area is also a bit of a downer. Working together before, celebrating or licking wounds together can be helpful. I talked how many more adopters they might have if the testing centers could be more easily located on campuses.

When asked whether we were using Cengage Unlimited products, no one had used this or heard about it. When they asked whether we used any of the practice exam materials provided by Cengage, most of us admitted to having used them in the past. None of us used them any longer.

When asked why, a general consensus noted that practice exams didn’t quite focus on the topics which the final exam covers. Faculty who had used it found large sections went uncovered, and some sections covered did not show up on exams. Still others found that testing in sections had questions which did not relate to materials covered. It can be difficult to find the best product to help students feel that they are prepared while they are approachable and cover an accurate range of questions and materials.

PBT (performance based testing) are seemingly better for critical thinking. They showed several slides with numbers and statistics showing that students using performance-based questions were more knowledgeable on PBT Tests.

Cengage wants people to grow the confidence in the critical thinking skills, and expose them to questions with a PBT feel that they’d experience on the exam.

By 9:15am Cengage dropped a few people, myself included.

At this point they talked about MINDTAP products, specifically about A+ products. I am unfamiliar with this material, and was not the only one. They decided to do a deeper dive. This isn’t really helpful, because it moved into an explanation of the materials and how they worked. Because only 1 person in the group used this, several people immediately disengaged. It was partly explanation, but mostly a sales pitch.

The problem with this should have been clear: If no one is using this software, telling us more about it and requesting feedback is difficult. Hearing about it, and (knowing, using it, answering questions from students about it, etc.) are clearly different things.

They discussed the need for covering Bloom’s Taxonomy in classroom materials with the classes, and most of us were well-versed. Each class included a pre-assessment and post-assessment to show how students have adjusted over time.

Behind the scenes they explained how their materials worked: Mainly each built from scenario-based questions, including quality distractors (items such as: has a USB Mouse), include JIT (Just in Time) Feedback, and remediation maps to chapter Learning Objectives and exam objectives. On top of these questions, they are hoping to add simulations to give the look and feel to the practice exams.

Next, they want to know: Would it be better to have active simulations in the class, VM (virtual machines), or items which will be closest to the exams? Will adding critical thinking and learning skills be helpful so that it is closer to the real world or will it be better to be closer to the exam?

Should Cengage materials be based more on virtual scenarios, or something which is testing based?

Tyler Dockery’s opinion on this matter:

What is the goal you’re hoping to achieve? Make your work based for that. If the goal of the material is to be ready for the real world, have more simulations as assignments. If the point is that full completion of the certification exam is the end goal, the certification exam should have a closer connection to the testing and quiz components. Different teachers will have different goals, so opening options on that will be helpful. Giving faculty the option to have access to real-life materials OR test prep OR both would be your best answer.

Also, some areas of this state have different levels of monetary values, and this adjusts the goal of the class materials.. In some parts of the state, students may not have the money to include the testing as part of their experience.  For low-income areas, teachers may focus more on real-world skills as opposed to testing and the costs involved with that. This offers some the path to certification and others the path to job skills, still others might enjoy both.


Witold Sieradzan’s opinion on the matter

Almost every 2-year degree is outshined by a BA degree. If you have connections with companies, find out how many of them are actually looking for this certification. Can you contact recent recipients of the testing and connect them with companies who value this certification? We are maintaining mostly Community College students, and if the bonus of the certification could be made more clear would be helpful.


9:45 Cengage Unlimited start.

At this point, the Cengage representative began talking about the new Cengage Unlimited product and wanted some feedback. Not much talk about that, since no one used it or heard about it. We looked up CompTIA certification and saw that in NC there are 179 jobs using those as preferred specifications for jobs and requirements.

The Cengage representative decided to talk about a new product they would be creating called Cengage Cloud+. Witold Sieradzan also asked if we had some material for one of our newest classes: CTI-141 Cloud and storage concept. I was unfamiliar with class, so we looked it up online. We introduced the material to the Cengage representative, and she wrote it down. Cloud+ Cengage-They agreed that the material could be a good connection.

All-in-all, I don’t think they got all the information they wanted, but perhaps it was a good test case. Computer Instructor’s Association might be a nice connection for CompTIA, but all the MS Office products were a pretty big stretch. I wish these were more clearly marked as sponsor sessions.

Introduction to Git and GitGUB

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On 3/6/19 at 10:30am, I attended the North Carolina Computer Instructor Association Conference Session Introduction to Git and GitHUB at East Carolina University’s SCITech Building in Greenville, NC. This was presented by Michael Schore of Wake Technical Community College.


Introduction to Git and GitGUB

  • Without VCS (a version control system), there are problems when you overwrite a file.
  • Why is it good, why use it and what is it?
  • Who should use it?


What is a version control system

  • It Tracks changes to files, especially text files
  • Source code for every piece of software or code library is written or has been written in some form of text
  • VCS is also called source code management (SCM)

A version control system is really just a way to take care of added text and then to catalog and understand what text was added, when, and by whom.

History of GIT

Version Control Systems really got their start as coding back in 1972 – SCCS (AT&T). Any participants in the class working then? A few. At the time, attendants were using fortran or punch cards.

1982 RCS much higher performance.

1986 –cvs concurrent use was an issue though

2000 – apache tracked as a subdirectory

2005 – linus torval. Replaced proprietary bitkeeper SCM



What is a version control system (VCS) Good For?

Think about the tracking required for software or web environment. How many files might be in a basic bootstrap environment? 10? 30? will assist you in making a basic website with GRID, BOOTSTRAP, etc. Choose one, and it will spit out the basics needed to begin that type of website. Easy, but if you don’t know how to code this, not helpful. Many students may feel initially that using a system like this is smart, helpful, and saves them time, but unfortunately if they do not understand the coding it takes to see, use, change, and adjust this material, they don’t really know how to upkeep the websites they’ve started. In the end, they feel disheartened, upset, and as if they’ve wasted valuable time. Many will choose to have failed rather than put in the time end effort to learn what they have missed.

Without version control in the classroom, students do not always have the steps that many employers would like to have from new employees. Students with an understanding of version control software can quickly and easily move into a software or coding environment, while those without the experience may find themselves having to learn on the job.

Students have excuses, but an online version control system bypasses many of these. If the dog ate their flash drive, the computer fell from the table, etc., anecdotal evidence notwithstanding, having versions of materials available online allow them to go anywhere. They can go to the school lab and work on their materials. They can go directly to the classroom and begin working on it without pause.



Are Our Students Prepared? Are We Preparing Them?

Modern workflow options require us to ask: Are we really preparing students for jobs in the workplace? If we are teaching students to work on local machines, is this really the industry standard anymore? This opens us up to problems like those noted above. Transportation issues, mechanical and electronic failure, home wi-fi or general connection issues, windows and software updates, etc., can all be blamed without a cloud-based server or version control system. If the students cannot produce the class files at class time, its a real problem

Using GIT and GITHUB is something which can be used to assist students in job availability and preparedness. Employers in coding or web design & development can learn a great deal from a GitHUB. They can see how many updates the students have made, how many active files students are using, how many adjustments they’ve made to existing pieces and how timely the responses are to requests. It allows them to see the technical writing and explanations shown, and many other pieces of material. Imagine the increase in employability this could bring to the table.

Its not all a bed of roses though. An issue with this can be some learned helplessness on the part of our younger, or online students. We need to generate students who break out of their shells and learn to solve problems for themselves. If students don’t feel they have been given a number-by-number, step-by-step approach, many will check out and simply say that they cannot fulfill the project. We need to teach them to rely on themselves and prepare themselves to solve real-world solutions.

Watch this learned helplessness video at: youtube


What is GIT

Starting in the fall this will be taught in the classrooms at Wake Technical Community College. Git is distributed version control available via the internet or any online connection.

  • No communication requirement with a central server
    • Faster
    • No single point of failure
  • Encourages programmer involvement and “forking” of projects
    • Developers can work independently
    • Can submit change sets for inclusion or rejection

This allows us (both workers such as students and observers such as faculty, bosses, and the general public) to see who checked out individual files, how many lines of code were removed, as well as how many lines of code were added into the environment. It adds accountability into the online group project environment, because there is no way to mask the amount of work done, and code from one update can be checked against code from earlier updates (avoiding duplication and/or copying) as well as against later versions (avoiding duplication and reprinting materials, or having useless code removed later by others..

Who Should Use Git?

  • Anyone needing to track edits in text files
  • Anyone working with appropriate files in a collaborative setting
  • Anyone not afraid to use command-line tools
  • Types of files being worked on
    • Web files (html, css, JS…)
    • Web Programming (PHP, Python, Ruby,Perl, ASP…)
    • Programming (JAVA, C, C++, C#, Objective C…)
    • Offshoots of web languages (like coffeeScript, ActionScript…)
  • Can track other types of files, but not as useful- think images, sound files, etc.

Installing GIT

Nothing difficult about installation. It runs anywhere.

Bash, Apple and unix flavors come with Bash. Windows version installation is an option (GitBash). Having the right-click option to open GitBash from any windows explorer location is a great thing.

Configuring GIT

Systems have all been going to GUI over the years.  Students are afraid of command line. This really allows us to go back to basics and add in another level of professionalism and base-level working knowledge into our classes earlier. Configuring Git is as easy as using the .gitconfig file in the configuration folder.

  • Local Git config file… request slides

Editing GIT

Visual studio code can be used as the visual editor for github. You can also use color output of git.


What is a repository? How do you create one? A repository is a place to save and store files. In a VCS, you’re trying to have a backup in case something stupid happens. If you have set up GITHUB and a repository, you can give it some information and choose a day and time to commit to those changes.

How safe is my data? How easily is it destroyed?

At its most basic, its just a file location, created on your development system.

Local repository can be set up, where your development is taking place so you can monitor and record its history.

Remote repository can also be set up, a place where your files can be saved as above, but offsite.


Creating A Repository

There is no free lunch. Once git is installed on your computer, its pretty simple to do. Looking at a typical website:

  • Using Git, initialize the project
  • Looking at the directory, we now see a .git file added and a (master) line added.



At this point in the lecture, we did some hands-on work with GIT to use the materials firsthand. It was a little technical, so I have included the slides as I was not able to type during this time.


Best Practices

  • Commit chmessage in example was very simple
  • Commit messages should be a descriptive message about the changes
    • Start with simple single line – 40 to  50 characters
    • Add more lines as needed but less than 70 characters
    • Keep messages in the present tense, not past tense
    • Bullet points using asterisks
    • Add bug number and tracking numbers in the material to be ready for business standards



Understanding GIT Architecture

Repository >> working >> git add file.html ?? staging >> git commit file.html >> repository

Again, this example was pretty hands-on, so I didn’t have much time for notes and notation.



GITHUB Training

Find some introductory GIT training and walk though it a few times. Teacher training  to master GIT and Git GUB training via

Push the workflow ideas on the students. A student who understands GIT can easily understand and pickup the other repository functions. Whatever system suits the company Is the one they’ll use. Think it might be a passing phase? Microsoft bought GITHUB for 7.5 Billion last year.

Where will this go? We’ve recently added in educational contracts with GITHUB and Wake Tech. This allows us a bit of flexibility but can be difficult as it requires schools to work alongside an entity like Microsoft which is itself incredibly large.


GITHUB Campus Advisor program

  • As a Github Campus Advisor, you’re not only a master, but a champion of real-world tools at the School.
    • Unlock benefits provided by Github, including a free Github package to meet the needs of your school?
    • Event support, workshop kits and fresh swag delivery every semester
    • Early access to new education features and materials from GitHub education
    • Special invitations to github education events
    • Github camps advisors-only gear and special swag