1. Christina Titus
  2. Program Director
  3. IT Skill Standards 2020 and Beyond
  4. https://connectedtech.org/itss-2020/
  5. IT Skill Standards 2020 and Beyond, Collin College
  1. Ann Beheler
  2. http://connectedtech.org
  3. PI
  4. IT Skill Standards 2020 and Beyond
  5. https://connectedtech.org/itss-2020/
  6. Collin College
Public Discussion

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  • Icon for: Christina Titus

    Christina Titus

    Lead Presenter
    Program Director
    May 9, 2022 | 05:04 p.m.

    Welcome and thank you for watching our “IT Skill Standards 2020 and Beyond” grant video. My name is Christina Titus, and I’m the Program Director for this NSF project grant. Along with free access to the skill standards created by the work of this grant, we offer free technical assistance for those who choose to implement either the skills verification process or the output materials.

     We are interested in learning how you and your colleagues currently obtain information to update your IT programs.  How do you ensure your curriculum is current and up to date?  Please leave your responses in the discussion below!

     
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    Deborah Roberts
    Ryan Pierce
  • Icon for: Ann Beheler

    Ann Beheler

    Co-Presenter
    PI
    May 9, 2022 | 05:38 p.m.

    I also thank you for visiting.  My question is how you determine whether or not the employers on your Business Advisory Council are truly engaged in your work?  If you are not sure, we know how to help you improve that engagment using proven methods!  Ann Beheler

     
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    Sarah Haavind
  • Icon for: Elaine Craft

    Elaine Craft

    Researcher
    May 10, 2022 | 10:08 a.m.

    Important work and useful outcomes! 

     
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    Christina Titus
  • Icon for: Ann Beheler

    Ann Beheler

    Co-Presenter
    PI
    May 10, 2022 | 12:14 p.m.

    How often do your Business folks meet to actively guide your programs?

     

  • Icon for: Jeff Milbourne

    Jeff Milbourne

    Facilitator
    STEM Coordinator-Writing and Learning Center
    May 10, 2022 | 04:55 p.m.

    Thanks all for the great video and exploration of your program, which is well thought-out and timely. I appreciate your intentionality at involving so many different stake-holder groups, and in chunking the skills/standards at different scales, which I'd imagine aids in implementation. 

    I'm curious about a few things: 

    I'll second Ann's question about ensuring quality engagement with the business community and then add a question/comment: I'd imagine you had to do some work to translate the input from the business advisory council into the student learning outcomes you reference; could you talk a little bit about how that process played out? 

    Also, how are you all thinking about program impact/outcomes? You've clearly done a lot of great work on the front end to develop the standards, but what are your goals with respect to implementation/adoption of the standards? Are you thinking about any sort of impact metrics on the students who complete programs that adopt the standards? 

     

     

     
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    Christina Titus
  • Icon for: Ann Beheler

    Ann Beheler

    Co-Presenter
    PI
    May 10, 2022 | 05:46 p.m.

    Determining program impact/outcomes is a bit more difficult, especially with respect to gathering individual student date - due to FERPA.  We just beginning dissemination.  We are holding  frequent introductory IT Skill Standards  webinars and have plans for an IT Skill Standards onsite summit in Washington DC in 2023..  We want to dive deeper with faculty so that they take the IT Skill Standards and the BILT model to develop their own local BILT, using that employer group to localize/regionalize ths standards to their locale.  

    We do have anecdotal evidence with those colleges who have already used the Skill Standards locally with BILT teams that the engagement of the employers is far deeper using the Skill Standards and the BILT approach than the college typically has had with their standard advisory councils.

    We also know that when we start by helping a college do one BILT team, it is frequently the case that the college wants to implement many more BILT teams in other discipline areas.  Additionally, we are in talks with a 4-year well-known research universitiy to help us determine metrics to quantify the increasedemployer  involvement in some manner.  Please contact us if you are interested in our webinars, our BILT model, or the eventual impact data that is developed.

     
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    Sarah Haavind
  • Icon for: Ann Beheler

    Ann Beheler

    Co-Presenter
    PI
    May 10, 2022 | 05:35 p.m.

    Thanks for the question about the relationship between student learning outcomes and the knowledge and skills that employers want to hire.  In general, there is a disconnect between educators and industry - educators talk in terms like student learning outcomes, and employers talk about the knowledge and skills that they want in "right-skilled" graduates so that they are be readily employable.

    The Business & Industry Leadership Team (BILT) process (this is the process we used to work with employers nationally to develop the IT Skill Stanards) connects educators and employers such that the educators hear from the employers what knowledge and skills they want to hire during the KSA meetings, and then educators respond to the prioritized knowledge and skills by mapping these skills to existing courses to identify gaps.  Educators then figure out how to address the gaps in curriculum.  Along the way, educators do develop student learning outcomes from the prioritized knowledge and skillls, and they then provide feedback to the BILT members to ensure that employers are happy with the results.  

    For more information on the BILT process, see www.connectedtech.orgg under the Business tab.

     

     
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    Ryan Pierce
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    Ronda Black

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 10, 2022 | 05:47 p.m.

    Wow! Such great info to help direct classroom learning.

     
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    Deborah Roberts
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    Ronda Black

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 10, 2022 | 05:47 p.m.

    Wow! Such great info to help direct classroom learning.

     
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  • Icon for: Ryan Pierce

    Ryan Pierce

    Higher Ed Administrator
    May 10, 2022 | 05:53 p.m.

    Agreed. Very necessary work to bridge the divide between what we teach and what industry needs. This effort will be needed indefinitely.

     
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    Helen Sullivan

    May 11, 2022 | 07:29 p.m.

    Totally agree with you Ryan. I'm part of the ITSS team, and we are very encouraged by the engagement of businesses in the process working with colleges to prepare students to enter the industry.

  • Icon for: Helen M Sullivan

    Helen M Sullivan

    May 11, 2022 | 07:30 p.m.

    Totally agree with you Ryan. I'm part of the ITSS team, and we are very encouraged by the engagement of businesses in the process working with colleges to prepare students to enter the industry.

  • Icon for: Sarah MacGillivray

    Sarah MacGillivray

    Associate Project Director
    May 11, 2022 | 11:05 a.m.

    Very important work, alignment with industry is key to ensuring that students are well prepared for the jobs available. Our project uses gap analyses to compare local industry needs with college offerings, resulting in a "heat map" of areas to focus on. 

     
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  • Icon for: Ann Beheler

    Ann Beheler

    Co-Presenter
    PI
    May 11, 2022 | 11:14 a.m.

    Thanks, Sarah.  We do similar work to identify the gaps using a slightly different process - for 6 of the most critical IT/Cybersecurity job clusters.  And, I'm now working with two of your  colleges to get really granular Knowledge and Skills desired by the employers.  Two approaches leading to similar results.

     
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    Sarah Haavind
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    Mark Richter

    May 11, 2022 | 01:21 p.m.

    Thank you for sharing the video with us.

    One of the greatest challenges educators face in the IT sectors is the rapid rate of change in the tools and technologies that businesses need.  Cybersecurity is one of the areas undergoing rapid change, and those changes impact many of the other IT skill sets.

    Beyond the specific skills needed to qualify for a job posting, businesses want to hire people who can integrate quickly and smoothly into their existing working environment. Graduating students who can solve problems and be able to see the 'big picture' of how businesses use IT is a big factor in determining whether hiring managers consider them worthy candidates.

    It is clear from your efforts that your team understands the challenges.

    Keep up the good work!

    Mark Richter
    Hitachi Vantara

     
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  • Icon for: Suzanne Ames

    Suzanne Ames

    Higher Ed Administrator
    May 11, 2022 | 04:58 p.m.

    Thank you for commenting, Mark. You are absolutely correct. Employers need critical thinkers just as much as they need someone with specific technical skills because those skills will inevitably get outdated. But, lifelong learners will adapt and grow. Our project attempted to balance hard and soft skills needed in industry.

    Suzanne Ames

    ITSS Co-PI 

  • Icon for: Bhaskar Upadhyay

    Bhaskar Upadhyay

    Facilitator
    Associate Professor
    May 12, 2022 | 12:00 p.m.

    The premise of the project seems that the educational institutions need to prepare youth for the jobs but it doesn't address how the businesses will support these youths when they are on the job. I agree with the premise that we need youth who can "fill the job" but as the natures of jobs change who will be responsible for reeducating the youth? I think there needs to be a more synergistic collaboration between educational institutions and businesses as co-partners with more than 20-years plans rather than 5/6 years plans.  

    What would be some of the measures of success? What would be mechanisms for feedback and retooling? What are the investments from education institutions and businesses for the success of this partnership? 

     
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    Sarah Haavind
  • Icon for: Sarah Haavind

    Sarah Haavind

    Facilitator
    Senior Research Project Manager
    May 12, 2022 | 02:23 p.m.

    I am definitely excited about this project, it so obviously fills a clear need in such a productive and generative way. I'm building on Bhaskar's questions here because it's just where I was going in my mind when Mark flagged the need that "businesses want to hire people who can integrate quickly and smoothly into their existing working environment." 

    On the one hand, yes, as Suzanne noted, "Employers need critical thinkers just as much as they need someone with specific technical skills because those skills will inevitably get outdated. But, lifelong learners will adapt and grow. Our project attempted to balance hard and soft skills needed in industry." ...but where does that leave a large swath of our prospective workers who do not fit easily into a predominately white male culture typically found in those working  environments? Ann mentions above, "Determining program impact/outcomes is a bit more difficult, especially with respect to gathering individual student data - due to FERPA." 

    ...is the team thinking already about this aspect of the challenge? I'd love to hear more about what is already happening to widen the appeal of these fields and make them more welcoming generally. Mentorships and internships come to mind as a next step. Would love your thoughts. Thanks in advance!

    P.S. This project video elsewhere in the Hall might be of interest.

  • Icon for: Ann Beheler

    Ann Beheler

    Co-Presenter
    PI
    May 12, 2022 | 02:49 p.m.

    Bhaskar,

    Thanks for your comments.  I will try to unpack them to respond.

    First, let's start with the time horizons for skill standards that are useful for applied technical programs - our focus.  In the almost 20 years we have worked with the BILT model (the foundational element for working with national employers to create the Skill Standards), leading employers do well to "see" 12-36 months into the future - and sometimes they can comment as much as 5 years into the future.  Anything beyond that is basically a wild guess.  We do work with the BILT teams to talk about trends for the future 2-3 times per year to inform eduators, but the comments are very general the futher out we look. General information is not sufficient to design curriculum aligned with business need so that graduates are immediately employable after an applied program is complete.  Therefore, though it's great to wishfullly think that businesses can provide granular information even 10 years out, they simply do not.

    Additionally, our focus is not on just youth.  The average age in IT-related  programs at our home college is close to 30 years old, though there are those who have just graduated from high school in the mix as well.  Often courses have students from new high school graduates through retirees who need a skill to go back to work.  The BILT model suggests that individual colleges bring students into their BILT meetings (that are held annually) so that BILT members know the kind of students they can get from the program that they co-lead.  Typically, these students, once exposed to the employers, get offers, and as exemplars for the program, others also get offers.  I cannot speak for all employers, but our BILT members are aware that they need to mentor incoming entry-level hirees, and such mentoring helps to remediate what needs to happen when jobs change.  

    Measures of success so far have been mostly descriptive, though we are talking with an R-1 research program to potentially help us tease out some metrics.  Descriptive feedback across the board indicates the educators and employers alike are amazed and pleased at the wealth of information that they can get to the colleges in a very short time during a BILT meeting.    Further, because BILT members feel they co-lead the college program, they often provide interships, guest speakers, employer panels, etc. after their BILT involvement that they did not provide before.

    With respect to retooling, we are working with our national employers now to determine triggers for when emerging technologies have enough weight to be included in curriculum.  And, of course, if significant material must be added, older material must be removed. Note also that we now have 70+ colleges and universities that have or are implementing the BILT model for their locales.  Ultimately their BILT teams can make updates on an on-going basis into the future even though the national IT standards are not updated except periodically.

    So far, IT skill standards have been developed through Federal grant funding as it takes a large effort to come up with a national view.  Local BILT teams, however, volunteer their tiime with the college and can continue updating.

    I have much more to say about these subjects, but this is enough for now.  I am also happy to discuss the IT Skill Standards process and the BILT model as it can apply locally with any interested party.  Just indicate your interest!

     
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  • Icon for: Ann Beheler

    Ann Beheler

    Co-Presenter
    PI
    May 12, 2022 | 05:48 p.m.

    Sarah,

    In the ITSS project, we are focusing on reaching administrators and faculty to teach them how to apply the skill standards to their own curriculum with strong engagement from their business teams.  We also are teaching them about the Business & Industry leadership Team Model which promotes very high business engagement.  We are reaching out to Native American colleges, HSI collees, and Historically Black Colleges to train them how to use our materials.  

    Throuh our sister grant we have supported several initiatives to teach colleges how to reach out to minorities or all kinds to recruit and retain them in IT-related curriculum.

    Happy to discuss further.

    Ann

     
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  • Icon for: Michael Singletary

    Michael Singletary

    Higher Ed Administrator
    May 13, 2022 | 11:17 a.m.

    Community colleges are a great place to build employable skills but are often overlooked for someone with a four year degree. Would like to know more about how you engage industry to inform your process and how that has impacted their perspective for employing students with a two year degree.

     
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  • Icon for: Suzanne Ames

    Suzanne Ames

    Higher Ed Administrator
    May 13, 2022 | 11:42 a.m.

    Good question, Michael. As co-PI of the project, I have witnessed employers increasing their knowledge of the skills and abilities of community college graduates as they contribute their input and participate in the information gathering process. It is certainly not a linear process, but I think through this project, along with many other efforts across the country, we are beginning to see an increase in employer awareness. 

    Suzanne Ames

     
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    Sarah Haavind
  • Icon for: Ann Beheler

    Ann Beheler

    Co-Presenter
    PI
    May 13, 2022 | 11:55 a.m.

    I concur with Suzanne, Michael, and will add that when individual colleges work with their Business team using the Skill Standards and bring out their students as a feature in some of the annual meetinggs, the "proof" is in those students.  Employers learn first-hand that the CC students are extremely capable and employable.  We even had one CTO go back after a student session and change ALL his IT postings to require certificates and/or Associate degrees instead of Bachelor's and above.  It's hard to dispute what they see and hear firsthand.  Contact me for more info if you like.  Out website is at www.connectedtech.org, and the ITSS project as well as the BILT info is there.

     

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    Mark Richter

    May 13, 2022 | 03:01 p.m.

    "...but where does that leave a large swath of our prospective workers who do not fit easily into a predominately white male culture typically found in those working  environments?"

    Excellent point Sarah.

    I'm hoping that the confidence of the students, built upon the competence of hands-on application throughout their schooling, helps break through that barrier. 

    Naturally, a 2-year program can seem too short to provide students with enough skills to become competent. However, I'd like to challenge that notion based on my own experience through 40 years in IT. Given the right sense of motivation, students will work outside the classroom hours to learn the materials, tools, and techniques. This isn't meant as an indictment of the educators when students lack motivation, but it does suggest that given the right frame of mind by those who lead the instruction, students can have a better sense of purpose and focus on the goals from their earliest classes.

    My thoughts on how to bridge the gap has to do with the quality of the education as a whole...  Beyond the curriculum...  Beyond the syllabus... My most memorable college instructor was in calculus.  The class started with a story about a project on a pipeline and how long it would take for a pig to complete its journey to a location so some maintenance could be done.  The rest of that class was built around that and similar stories.  We had a mental image of the goal, and we worked through the details of how to reach it.  For me, calculus wasn't easy, and earning the grade took many hours outside of the classroom to fully grasp.

    When the students know what their goals are, they can be motivated to experiment and continue learning outside the classroom.

    With two solid years of positive reinforcement and a strong vision of achieving their goals, the students can carry that into the job interview - with clear examples of having worked through problems and how they and their teams found the solutions.  That's how I envision all students, regardless of gender or ethnicity, 'breaking though' in the current culture.  As planners of the student's education, we won't be able to avoid all bias during the interview, but with the confidence to casually answer questions, I feel confident that they will have a much better chance of success at getting hired - and of demonstrating competency in their job role.

    In my hiring experience, that's the type of person I'm referring to as being able to quickly and smoothly integrate.  They know their craft.  They know how to solve problems.  And they know how to work as part of a team.

    If they are willing to learn and have a good basic foundation, I can teach them the specifics they will need within a particular company and business environment.

    These are my personal experiences and reflect my optimism.  If my experiences are more broadly applicable, they might help instructors provide the students with the tools to not only navigate the interview, but continue to build their skills as the IT world continues to change - hopefully addressing Bhaskar's challenge about long-range career planning.

    Mark Richter
    Hitachi Vantara

  • Small default profile

    Mark Richter

    May 13, 2022 | 03:11 p.m.

    Suzanne,

    One of the reasons 2-year graduates aren't considered prime candidates has to do with risks and costs associated with onboarding new hires.  The conventional wisdom is that the better the credentials, the lower the risk of hiring someone who cannot perform.

    I've seen a slight shift in small to midsized businesses, some of which look for ability over credentials and work experience.  Unfortunately, larger companies have a more complex challenge - not the least of which is often a large number of candidates - so they have policies and procedures in place that essentially puts a 2-year graduate at a significant disadvantage.

    Lone Star College in the Houston area was facing that challenge when I was on their CIT advisory board starting around 30 years ago.  They've earned a bit of a reputation for the quality of their graduates, which I believe has been a factor in their students rate of being hired.

    I don't know enough about Collin to know their reputation in the Dallas area. If it isn't yet well known, programs such as this should change that.

    There will still be challenges with larger employers due to the factors mentioned above - until and unless there is someone within the company that can vouch for specific applicants, or the institution where they graduated, the latter of which will require marketing and developing relationships within HR departments.

    Getting the interview is the challenge.  Once there, as I've noted in my previous comments, the more confident and competent the applicant, the greater the chance of getting hired.

    Mark Richter
    Hitachi Vantara

  • Icon for: Suzanne Ames

    Suzanne Ames

    Higher Ed Administrator
    May 13, 2022 | 04:48 p.m.

    I agree, Mark. I have started developing programs that help students get into companies through the "back door" rather than fighting corporate culture. We have had great success with a program called Mentors in Tech which supports community college software dev students with two mentors for two years. Those mentors are really helpful in building the confidence of students and making industry connections.

     
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    Sarah Haavind
  • Icon for: Ann Beheler

    Ann Beheler

    Co-Presenter
    PI
    May 13, 2022 | 04:51 p.m.

    Thanks, Mark.  I appreciate your comment. 

    When we started some of this kind of work 20 years ago in our regional and now national NSF center, companies always required a Bachelor's degree for IT and Cyber positions.  Now, many, especially small and medium-sized companies, are willing to consider 2- year graduates.  We have worked with an HR department of a large IT company, and they are even saying that they no longer require Bachelor's degrees.  Hopefully this trend will continue over time because the IT/Cyber workforce needs simply are not going to be filled by the 4-year institutions nationally.

    Collin, like Lone Star (one of our grant partners), is known for strong programs.  Collin is the home of the National IT Center under NSF at this time, also.  The IT Skill Standards project has a national focus as well.  In some areas of the country, the "Bachelor's Degree required"  mantra is still in place, but more and more we find companies willing to consider 2-year graduates by at least taking off the requirement for the Bachelor's to even be considered for an interview.

    We'd love to work with you as an employer representative if you are willing to invest a few hours.  Please contact me at abeheler@collin.edu.  And, thanks again for your comment.

  • Icon for: Dennis Kleinman

    Dennis Kleinman

    May 16, 2022 | 02:39 p.m.

    This solves problems on both sides of the ledger.  It provides a path for students directly into good paying jobs while providing employers with the specific skillsets they are looking for.  Will this be going national any time soon?  You might like to have a look at the project that my team and I have been working on https://stemforall2022.videohall.com/presentations/2489.  It is a K-12 curriculum funded by the U.S. Department of Defense designed to introduce students to the field of BioFabrication, a STEM field that is positioned for enormous growth in the coming decade.  If you want to take a deeper diver into what's covered, go here Building a Strong Workforce Alliance for Biofabrication & Bioengineering through K-12 Education.  

  • Icon for: Laurin Buchanan

    Laurin Buchanan

    Principal Investigator
    May 17, 2022 | 02:38 p.m.

    As an industry SME / participant in several ITSS panels, I very much enjoyed the opportunity to weigh in on what knowledge and skills should be considered essential for students in order to be "job ready Day 1". The panels were very diverse with participants from all over the nation, representing a wide range of industries, company sizes and job types, and the discussion was always very engaging, even when we disagreed. Or were in violent agreement!

    It would be fantastic if this work continued and was expanded to address the many other work roles that were not addressed in the current project. We need also research on effective pedagogical approaches and curricular materials for these skill standards, particularly for the cybersecurity end of the spectrum. I am a former cybersecurity practitioner turned researcher, and believe it is critical that we identify and disseminate evidence-based practices to prepare learners, rather than continuing to re-invent the wheel, or persist in using a wheel with five sides because it is slightly better than a four-sided wheel.

    Christina, Ann, and other researchers in this conversation - I'd like to suggest that you consider continuing to disseminate your work by submitting to the Cybersecurity Skills Journal (CSJ), an international, peer-reviewed journal from the National CyberWatch Center Digital Press. CSJ  publishes Special Issues that advance knowledge, practice, and capabilities of the cybersecurity workforce. The current Special Issue Call, Evidencing Competencies: Progress from Funded Research, is seeking submissions arising from funded research about technology, tools, or techniques that impact cybersecurity practice, improve learning and advance the state of the cybersecurity workforce’s capability maturity. We are also looking for people from diverse backgrounds to become peer reviewers - no prior reviewing experience necessary!

    Full Disclosure: I am the (volunteer) Managing Editor of CSJ, and the outgoing co-chair of the NICE K12 Community of Interest.

    Laurin Buchanan, CISSP
    Secure Decisions
    laurin.buchanan@securedecisions.com
    former STEMForAll Videohall presenter!

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