Enhancing Associate Degrees for Information Technology Technicians and Professionals
A high demand for information technology (IT) technicians and professionals, coupled with the expected retirements in the field over the next five years, requires a new approach to identify and train the IT workforce. To ensure sufficient numbers of highly qualified IT technicians are available, Sinclair College will collaborate with industry to modify computer information systems (CIS) curriculum to reduce content redundancies, a frequent problem in courses built around industry certifications. The CIS programs will expand the depth of associate degree and certificate curricula, to make graduates more competitive. This project will also investigate the impact of competency-based, flex-paced curriculum and the role of a Navigator to assist students through credential completion. (A Navigator is a person who assists students across multiple areas, including enrollment issues, financial planning, academic advising, and career planning.) Information about how the project identified and remediated content redundancies, along with evidence-based practices related to accelerated coursework and student supports, will be disseminated to IT/CIS faculty at secondary and post-secondary institutions. The project aims to address the need for a strong and diverse IT workforce in southwest Ohio.
This project has three primary objectives: (1) to increase the success of postsecondary students pursuing one of five enhanced IT degrees; (2) to increase educational opportunities for rehabilitating prisoners to meet technician demand; and (3) to determine the efficacy of educational material dissemination for regional high schools. The project will enhance IT curricula to meet current and emerging workforce needs in network engineering, secure system administration, user support, cyber investigation, and data analytics. Seven core CIS courses based on industry certifications will be enhanced to reduce content redundancies. Faculty will employ the principles of spiral curriculum pedagogy and Bloom's Taxonomy to develop technician preparation pathways. Course modules will use competency-based, flex-paced modalities, allowing students to complete coursework at their own pace. It will also integrate content from industry certifications, modules developed by the Center for Occupational Research and Development and the NSF Center for Systems Security and Information Assurance, and Necessary Skills Now content to complement IT fundamentals with employability skills. The project will reach high school students, with emphasis on female high school students through Women in STEM events. To further meet technician demand and increase educational opportunities for rehabilitating inmates nearing reentry, the project will deliver two IT Certificates, IT Fundamentals and User Support, to inmates in seven correctional facilities. These Certificates are aligned with in-demand entry-level positions. Inmates will access online CIS coursework through secure JPay's Lantern tablet computers. A strong dissemination plan through the Miami Valley Tech Prep Consortium will ensure the communication of project deliverables and outcomes to others, including secondary school faculty for use with high school students pursuing a dual enrollment IT career pathway. New CIS curriculum will impact over 1,400 postsecondary students in five IT degree programs. This number includes 400 inmates in the Advanced Job Training prison program. Inclusion of this relatively untapped inmate population will contribute to reduced recidivism as well as promote diversity in the IT workforce. Additionally, 300 high school students will be exposed to new curriculum through established dual-enrollment programs, providing these students a pathway to college careers in this in-demand field.