MCCC’s Annual Technology and Learning Conference
highlights how technology enhances the educational environment
In today’s education environment, technology not only provides students with tools for classroom engagement and collaboration but also enables faculty to monitor progress in new ways, enrich the curriculum and provide new learning opportunities.
Montgomery County Community College’s (MCCC) 22nd Annual Technology and Learning Conference on Oct. 7 with its theme of “Enhancing the Educational Environment” focused on how these recent advances in technology are continually reshaping the learning experience.
Keynote speaker, Brian Knotts, senior vice president and chief scientist of Ellucian explained how specifically four technologies—social, mobile, analytics and cloud (SMAC)—are drastically improving education, as well as business and industry. While in the past, computers were used for calculations and data compilation, today there is a new generation of applications available as a result of SMAC.
As an example, Knotts described how the mobile application, Waze, not only uses GPS (Global Positioning System) technology, but also analyzes real-time data to reroute drivers as a result of an accident, heavy traffic or other incidents. Additionally, the app allows users to supply and share data and interact with each other.
Following his presentation, Knotts introduced MCCC panel speakers—Vice President for Information Technology and Chief Information Officer Dr. Celeste Schwartz,
Associate Professor of Engineering William Brownlowe and Computer Science Professor Kendall Martin—who spoke about some of the myriad ways the College is using technology.
“Think about where you were 15 years ago and the technology that was used and how different it is today. The technology the College uses today didn’t even exist 15 years ago,” said Dr. Schwartz, noting that the goal with technology is to meet the needs of the students.
Additionally, because of technology and sharing of information, students now have undergraduate research opportunities, explained Brownlowe. For example, students in MCCC’s Engineering program are designing and creating quad rotors, an urban concept vehicle, among other portfolio-type projects. “This work enables students to get internships, jobs and research assistant positions,” he said.
Professor Martin noted that students are “sitting in the middle of a perfect storm” where forces are opening up possibilities for students, including revolutionary access to
hardware and software, fabrication and social connections. “Students can access code and share their ideas globally,” she said.
Following the panel discussion, more than 200 participants, including 38 from K-12 schools and 41 from other colleges, attended 38 different learning sessions held throughout the day. The sessions covered a wide-array of topics including: Teaching and Learning, Trending Topics, IT Infrastructure and Cloud Computing, Accessibility for our Students, Security and Identity Management and Analytics and Retention. More than 18 vendors were on hand with displays and demonstrations.
Designed for faculty and administrators from both higher education and K-12 sectors, MCCC’s annual Technology and Learning Conference provides a forum for participants to share state-of-the-art information technologies, contribute to a vision of the future of information technology in the academic enterprise, and exchange ideas and best practices for incorporating technology, security and learning.
MCCC is ranked as the top community college in the country for its use of technology, according to a 2016 Digital Community Colleges Survey issued by e.Republic’s Center for Digital Education (CDE). The 250 data-point survey analyzes how community colleges use digital technologies to improve services to students, faculty, staff and the community at large. MCCC has ranked in the survey’s top 10 large community colleges since CDE introduced it a decade ago.