As people in the ICT sector know, the field is broad – encompassing everything from cybersecurity to digital marketing. Finding the right balance of those topics to appeal to community college and high school instructors can be challenging, but Richard Grotegut and Karen Stanton have found the right mix for the annual ICT Educators’ Conference, organized by the Western Academy Support and Training Center (WASTC).
This year’s conference, held January 3 and 4, drew more than 250 community college and K-12 educators to Cisco’s headquarters in San Jose for two days of workshops and networking opportunities.
The conference theme was “Jobs! Jobs! Jobs!” and sessions focused on how to prepare students for the 21st-century workforce and build stronger relationships between education and industry.
“A big part of the event is to allow a venue for ICT instructors to share best practices,” Stanton said.
Some of those best practices were how to enhance online classrooms, implementing ICT guided pathways, and strategies for teaching employability skills like communication, critical thinking and dependability.
Participants also heard from a top-notch lineup of keynote speakers including Peter Coffee, VP for Strategic Research at Salesforce and Laura Chappell, CEO of Wireshark University. And with tracks focused on today’s technology, cybersecurity, jobs and industry topics, there was something for everyone.
Responses collected in the conference feedback survey were overwhelmingly positive, with 97 percent of respondents saying they were “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with the event.
“I get the most value out of the connections made during the event,” one attendee wrote. “The sessions provide great information for me to take back and implement into my teaching, curriculum, or programs.”
Holding the conference at Cisco’s headquarters provided a glimpse into what ICT jobs look like and brings a real-world aspect to the idea of education/industry partnerships.
“It’s great to have an industry venue because it shows the industry participation and commitment and allows teachers to interact with industry,” Grotegut said.
Cisco graciously provided the venue and technical support for the conference including the set up and tear down of the rooms.
“Cisco is so stellar about providing wonderful technical resources and a technical team,” Stanton said. “I’m not running around checking all the rooms.”
Next year’s ICT Educators’ Conference will be held January 6 and 7, but ICT instructors won’t have to wait that long to take advantage of WASTC training. The annual “Faculty Development Weeks” are already being planned and will be held this summer. Faculty can attend intensive week-long training in Northern CA from June 10-14 or in Southern CA June 24-28.
For more information about the conference and other WASTC events, visit wastc.org.