April 10, 2013
From nwtc.edu: “NWTC student named 2013 New Century Scholar” – Sacha Turner, a Northeast Wisconsin Technical College Accounting student, has been named one of nation’s 2013 New Century Scholars for her outstanding grades, leadership and campus activities.
Turner is one of 50 community college students from the United States, Canada, and the Federated States of Micronesia receiving a total of $100,000 in scholarships. The New Century Scholars Program is sponsored by The Coca-Cola Foundation, Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation, Phi Theta Kappa, and the American Association of Community Colleges.
Turner will receive a $2,000 scholarship and a plaque, which will be presented at American Association of College Presidents (AACC) Convention in San Francisco in April. She graduates from NWTC this May with an associate degree in Accounting and a certificate in Software. She also received a certificate in Business Operations in December of 2011. Next year, she plans to continue her education, pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Leadership and Organizational Studies from the University of Wisconsin System.
“I wouldn’t have had this opportunity had I not had the support of my advisors, instructors and fellow classmates, “ said Turner. “Everyone here has contributed to help me earn this. It’s an amazing opportunity to represent NWTC as a New Century Scholar.”
As a mother to three young and active daughters, Turner finds the time to balance a demanding academic schedule, 4.0 grade point average and leadership positions in several college organizations. She serves as vice president of leadership for Phi Theta Kappa, as well as the vice president for NWTC’s Student Senate.
Her decision to come to NWTC came after years of doing accounting for small businesses. She realized getting her degree – and continuing her professional development through campus activities -could lead to a better life for her family and fellow classmates.
“I had always wanted to go back to school to be able to able to provide for my family, “ said Turner. “By being involved in these organizations, I’m held accountable. We strive to make differences for the entire student body. Getting to know all of the different people on campus is rewarding.”
“It’s all been so very worth it.”
Only one student from each state is chosen as a New Century Scholar. This is the second year in a row the Wisconsin recipient came from NWTC. Port Lor, of Green Bay, was chosen for the honor last year.
March 25, 2013
From wpr.org: “Technical colleges head likes Walker’s budget incentives” – The head of Wisconsin’s technical colleges told state lawmakers yesterday that she supports the way Governor Walker’s budget would tie future state funding to performance.
Under Walker’s plan, the amount of state money tech schools receive would be tied to factors like how many students they place in the workforce and the number of degrees they award in high-demand fields. Wisconsin Technical College System President Morna Foy says it should lead to increased funding for tech schools, since these are already areas where they excel.
“I think the hope is that it’s going to make an easier decision and a more likely decision that new resources allocations to the technical college system will be seen as an investment from the state in which you are getting some great return.”
Democrats pointed out that Walker’s budget would boost funding for technical colleges by just $5 million in this budget, after cutting them by $71 million in the last.
March 19, 2013
From postcrescent.com: “Changing economy means embracing continual learning” – More than two decades working as a bricklayer was enough for Mark Vander Velden.
When construction activity dried up during the recession, it became more clear to Vander Velden he needed a career switch, but at 50 he wondered if learning new skills for a new career was still possible.
“I haven’t been in a classroom since high school so it was a little nerve-wracking to even think about going back,” said Vander Velden, who lives outside Hortonville.
Vander Velden checked out Fox Valley Technical College in 2011 and hasn’t looked back. He enrolled in the electromechanical program that year and expects to graduate this fall.
Vander Velden said he’s best at hands-on learning, which is a big part of the program he selected.
“It was great to be learning about all the different kinds of programming controllers and hydraulic systems I could potentially be working with,” he said.
Vander Velden isn’t alone. The median age of FVTC’s students are in their early 30s, which means the college serves many people like Vander Velden who want to update current job skills or try a different career, said Chris Matheny, vice president of instructional services at FVTC.
Matheny said keeping workers’ skills updated is the college’s ongoing mission and with the business environment in constant flux, the college also must be in regular communication with the community to ensure its programs are meeting regional needs.
“Our purpose really is to make sure that we’re always talking to our employers and get out as much as possible to ensure we’re giving them the skilled workers they need,” Matheny said.
Matheny said FVTC has advisory groups it regularly consults with to keep its programs up to date.
Appleton-based Miller Electric Mfg. Co. is one of its business partners. Miller has worked with FVTC on a variety of training programs for its own workers and on initiatives to enhance manufacturing training for other regional employers.
“A well-trained workforce is a competitive advantage that differentiates us from other global companies and prevents us from experiencing significant skill gaps due to future retirements of our baby boomers and to meet our future growth requirements,” said Mike Weller, president of Miller Electric.
March 8, 2013
From lacrossetribune.com: “Morna Foy: Program lets students explore careers” – There was a time when a high school diploma was the ticket to many family-sustaining careers, allowing access to more than 70 percent of all jobs in 1973 according to Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce.
That is no longer the case, with the Center reporting that by 2020, 65 percent of jobs will require at least some education or skills training beyond high school.
That dramatic shift makes robust Career and Technical Education (CTE) partnerships all the more critical. These increasingly innovative collaborations allow high school students to explore career opportunities, experience the rigorous education needed to access them after high school and understand career progression potential.
CTE students often earn college credits and gain personal enrichment at the same time. Just as importantly, some students identify career fields in which they find they are not interested, saving significant time and investment after high school.
Throughout February, as part of CTE month, I had the chance to see first-hand impressive collaborations that Wisconsin’s technical colleges have with high schools throughout the state. I’m proud to support these partnerships. They consistently open doors to promising futures in agriculture, business, manufacturing, health care, marketing, information technology and engineering careers.
Wisconsin’s technical colleges provide education — and a graduate placement rate that consistently averages about 90 percent — in these and many other fields, preparing individuals for high-skill, high-wage careers.
Unfortunately, many high school students — and those they rely upon for guidance — often are unfamiliar with these opportunities.
All of us — parents, educators and employers — share responsibility for furthering career awareness and exploration. It can be as simple as helping students identify areas of ability and interest, with the help of online resources such as the Wisconsin Career Pathways website, or the Career Interest Questionnaire on the Wisconsin Technical College System website. You also might consider creating or supporting job shadowing opportunities or career days.
Perhaps most importantly, you can find a way to get involved with delivering, supporting or taking advantage of the many CTE options that exist for students, or that could exist with your vision or assistance.
For more than 20 years, Wisconsin’s technical colleges have been energetically engaged in middle and high school CTE programs, with more than 90,000 students participating. But there is a need to accomplish much more. We can do that, together, by promoting career awareness and college credit options every month of the year.
March 8, 2013
From news.wisc.edu: “Ed Talks Wisconsin an effort to start constructive dialog about public education” – Interested in public education and becoming more informed about the range of often contentious topics that are grabbing the headlines?
Ed Talks Wisconsin offers a unique opportunity to listen to diverse views and engage in debate and dialogue on issues from closing the achievement gap and the politics of school choice, to teachers unions, the transformation of higher education and more. The event, to be held on the UW-Madison campus March 12-22, is free and open to the public.
“This is a classic Wisconsin Idea sort of effort — using university resources and scholarship to inform public engagement on a big issue of public policy,” says Joel Rogers, a professor of law, political science, public affairs and sociology and director of the Center on Wisconsin Strategy, who is organizing the event. “Everybody should have the opportunity for a good education. That means making the public system work. This discussion is about what that requires today.”
Whether one is a student, parent, teacher, researcher or interested citizen, all are invited to join in the conversation.
“There are so many important conversations happening in and around Wisconsin regarding the future of public education, and Ed Talks Wisconsin represents an initial effort to try and pull them together into a cohesive dialogue,” says Sara Goldrick-Rab, an associate professor of educational policy studies and sociology who is helping organize the event.
Some of the Ed Talks Wisconsin highlights include:
- The March 12 kickoff event, “From K-12 to Technical College Degrees: Toward Stronger Connections and More Student Success.” The presentation will feature Morna Foy, the new president of the Wisconsin Technical College System, and be moderated by Julie Underwood, the dean of UW-Madison’s School of Education. It begins 7 p.m. in room 159 of the Education Building.
- The discussion March 13 centers on the hot-button topic of the achievement gap, and will feature a range of educational experts and key local stakeholders, including Madison Mayor Paul Soglin, James Howard, president of the Madison Metropolitan School District’s Board of Education, and Michael Johnson, chief executive officer of the Boys and Girls Club of Dane County. This event begins at 7 p.m., also at the Education Building.
- A presentation March 15 will focus on the rapid advancement in online learning opportunities and “The Coming Transformation of Higher Education.” Anya Kamenetz, the author of several books on the future of education and a senior writer at Fast Company magazine, where she writes the column “Life in Beta,” will take part in the conversation, as will UW Colleges and UW-Extension Chancellor Ray Cross, who is helping lead efforts to launch the UW System’s Flex Degree program. This talk begins at 7 p.m. at the Education Building.
- On March 18, a panel will examine the “Politics of School Choice in New Orleans and Milwaukee.” Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is proposing an expansion of the school choice program, which uses public funding to allow students to attend private or religious schools. Two authors with new books on school choice (Sarah Carr and Barbara Miner) will participate in an event moderated by UW-Madison’s Gloria Ladson-Billings, the Kellner Family Chair in Urban Education and a professor of curriculum and instruction, and educational policy studies. This event will take place at 7 p.m. in the Varsity 3 room of Union South.
The final two days of Ed Talks Wisconsin, March 21-22, are also part of the UW-Madison Department of Educational Policy Studies’ annual conference. This year’s 10th annual event is titled “A Nation at Risk? Reflections on the Past and Future of U.S. Public Education.”
“A Nation at Risk” is a report that was released in 1983, jump-starting decades of often critical talk directed at public schools. The report was a driving force behind a series of reforms, including the Bush administration’s 2002 No Child Left Behind law that pressured schools to improve students’ test scores or face increasingly harsh sanctions. These events, all in room 159 of the Education Building, also are free and open to the public.
To view the full schedule of events and for additional information, visit the Ed Talks Wisconsin website.
Ed Talks Wisconsin is being organized by: UW-Madison’s School of Education, Department of Educational Policy Studies, Center on Wisconsin Strategy (COWS) and Wisconsin Center for the Advancement of Postsecondary Education; the Madison Mayor’s Office; the Teaching Assistants Association; United Council of UW Students; the Wisconsin University Union; and Wisconsin Union Directorate.
February 5, 2013
From waow.com: “NTC online learning celebrates milestone” – Northcentral Technical College in Wausau is celebrating a milestone.
This month marks the first anniversary of a program allowing students to study online.
School officials say 100 students are enrolled so far. And they anticipate it will keep growing.
Earning a college degree online is nothing new. But a program at Northcentral Technical College in Wausau offers a different approach than others.
“There’s no confined assignment date for all the classes,” said NTC Vice President for Learning, Shelly Mondeik. That date doesn’t come until the end of the semester.
School officials say it’s NTC’s most flexible learning option.
“Lets say they have a child that is ill or something comes up and they have to go out of town for two weeks, they’re not penalized at all they basically can continue at their pace so they can actually finish a course in four weeks or they could take 16 weeks,” said Mondeik.
Katherine Welk is a virtual college student at NTC. She’s been enrolled three semesters, working toward an Associate’s Degree in Supervisory Management. Welk says this program is making that happen.
“I’m a stay at home mom and I know I need to have a degree to be able to provide for them so when I saw that NTC had their virtual college program that was great for me,” said NTC virtual college student, Katherine Welk.
The program was launched last February. School officials say it’s come a long way.
“We’re going to be having our first year anniversary, we actually started this last February where we offered a general studies certificate and now of course we actually have 6 Associate Degree programs in it, we’re very excited,” said Mondiek.
Even though it’s all online, Welk says she’s grown in the virtual classroom as well.
“It’s a really good environment, I don’t know, I just love it,” said Welk.
Going at her own pace is what drew Welk to this program. She hopes to continue her success, as just two more semesters stand between her and her degree.
College officials say they hope to have 150 students enrolled in the program by the end of the semester.
January 16, 2013
From wiseye.org: “Newsmakers: Wisconsin Technical College System President Morna Foy” – In a Newsmakers interview in her office on Jan. 14, Foy said the System had more than 362,000 students last year and the typical student is about 34 years old. She also said the colleges coped with a 26% cut in state aid over the last two years by eliminating some programs, adding more wait lists and laying off instructors.
January 11, 2013
From sheboyganpress.com: “Ten questions everyone should ask when choosing a college” — By Mike Lanser, president Lakeshore Technical College - Choosing a college has always been an important decision and there are more options than ever before. Working adults may be adding a multitude of online learning choices to their consideration list, while high school seniors and their parents might be thinking about campus safety and student life.
These are important considerations, but I’d like to offer you a list of 10 questions to ask when choosing your college. The answers to these questions not only affect where you start college, but where you will end — which for most people is a successful and rewarding career.
1. Is the college accredited?
Accreditation ensures that the institution adheres to rigorous standards of quality, process improvement and excellence which must be evidenced through documentation and on-site visits by the accrediting body. Lakeshore Technical College is accredited through the Higher Learning Commission, which is one of six regional institutional accreditors in the United States. To find out if the college you’re considering is accredited, visit ncahlc.org.
2. Is the education or credential you’re pursuing valued by potential employers? Ask for job placement rates.
You want to be sure your hard work and investment in college pays off. One indication that employers value the education you’re paying for is to find out about graduates’ job placement. LTC conducts a job placement survey of graduates each year. Last year, 4 out of 5 LTC grads were hired in 6 months or less following graduation.
3. What are the pass rates for students taking certification exams?
Many career-targeted programs promise that they will prepare you for licensure exams. Be sure to ask for pass rates from students who have taken the program previously. It can be good indicator of the program’s quality of instruction. At LTC, our students exceed the national average pass rates for certification exams by 15%.
4. What are the qualifications of the faculty, or better yet, can you meet them?
The quality of your learning experience is in your instructors’ hands. Do they have real-world experience in the area that they’re teaching. Are they certified instructors? Meeting your instructors is also a great way to enhance your understanding about the degree program you’re pursuing as well as your ultimate career goal. LTC instructors have worked in the fields they’re teaching and they welcome the opportunity to talk with students considering our college.
5. Is the program you’re considering offering college credit?
Many colleges offer both credit and non-credit offerings. Be sure to note whether you will earn college credit or not and whether your completion or credential earned will be recognized by potential employers.
6. What is the cost per credit?
Credits are a great way to compare apples to apples. If you’re paying $50 more for every credit, your college expense can really add up. Worse, if you’re not earning credit for the education you’re receiving you’ll want to consider how that could affect your future employment or education plans.
7. What kind of support will the college offer to help you succeed in meeting your educational and career goals?
You might have had areas in high school which challenged you, or maybe you’ve been out of school for a long time. Neither should be reasons for not pursuing your college degree, particularly if your college has services to help you be successful. LTC offers a wide range of free student success services ranging from peer tutors and support groups to academic counseling and career placement services.
8. Will you have the ability to build on your education to help you advance in your career?
Learning is life-long and many employers recognize this through employee tuition reimbursement programs. Keep this possibility in mind when you select a college because you may decide to continue your education after being on-the-job for a number of years. LTC has agreements with over 30 colleges and universities, including Silver Lake, Lakeland, UW-Oshkosh and UW-Green Bay so our graduates can continue to grow in their careers.
9. Is the college providing good value for your investment?
In addition to cost per credit comparisons, take a look at other expenses related to your education. Room & board if you’ll live on-campus, how many years it will take to complete your program, and the availability of financial aid and scholarships.
10. How long has the college been in operation?
You want your college degree, diploma or certificate to lead to job. While not a guarantee for your personal success, you can be assured a college has the commitment and resources to help you succeed when they have a proven history of doing so. LTC is proud to be celebrating a century of educating students for high-demand, local careers.
By answering these ten questions you’ll be armed with good information about the colleges you’re considering and ultimately which one will be the best fit for you to achieve your education and career goals.
From starjournalnow.com: “Nicolet College’s early childhood education program sees enrollment surge” – Nicolet College’s early childhood education program has enjoyed an enrollment boom in recent years thanks, in part, to greater opportunity for students to earn a bachelor’s degree and a desire by child care providers to have a more highly skilled workforce.
That’s according to Diana Rickert, early childhood education instructor at Nicolet, who recently gave a presentation to the Nicolet College Board of Trustees about program developments.
“Students like what Nicolet has to offer,” Rickert said. “They see the benefits of attending Nicolet on a number of fronts and that’s what’s driving the enrollment increase.”
Currently, 52 students are in the program and that number is expected to nudge higher in coming weeks as new applicants work their way through the enrollment process in order to begin classes at the start of the spring semester in January.
One of the biggest drivers of this trend is the close partnership Nicolet has developed with the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. Thanks to a credit transfer agreement between the two institutions, students can complete roughly the first two years of their bachelor’s degree at Nicolet and then transfer to UW-Stevens Point to complete the degree.
“Students are realizing that they can save thousands of dollars by starting at Nicolet,” she said. “That’s because of Nicolet’s affordable tuition and because they can live at home, which means they don’t have to pay room and board. Combined, this results in a very significant cost savings.”
With bachelor’s degree in hand, graduates are then eligible to receive their Wisconsin teaching license and teach pre-kindergarten through third grade in a public school system.
An added advantage is the increased level of hands-on, practical experience students get in the associate degree program. Nicolet’s early childhood education program has an advisory committee made up of teaching professionals that offers guidance for program development.
“When they look at rèsumès to fill teaching positions, I’ve heard time and again that applicants who first earn an associate degree rise to the top of the pile,” Rickert said. “The added level of hands-on teaching experience they get with an associate degree on top of what they get with a bachelor’s degree is highly valued by school districts.”
Another factor contributing to the enrollment increase is the state of Wisconsin’s YoungStar program. Launched in 2011, YoungStar ranks licensed child care providers on a scale of one to five, with five being the best rating. The Wisconsin Department of Children and Families then make the ratings public to help parents make child care decisions.
“More than a third of the possible points a program can earn are based upon the educational qualifications of the staff,” Rickert said. “Because of this, we are seeing more people who are currently working in child care enrolling in Nicolet classes. They are learning additional skills that ultimately benefit the children they teach and care for, and also help their employer receive a higher YoungStar rating.”
In recent years, Nicolet has also added a high degree of flexibility to the program, offering classes in the evening, on weekends, over an interactive television network, in an accelerated format, and on-site in the Lac du Flambeau tribal community.
“Everybody’s life situation is different,” Rickert explained. “By expanding the options students have to take classes, we’re making it easier for students to fit college into what are already busy lives.”
November 7, 2012
From lacrossetribune.com: “Western, North Side school referendums ride high on local support” – Voters appeared to back Western Technical College’s plan to add students and update facilities with a strong showing of support Tuesday for the school’s $79.8 million referendum.
By early this morning, 53.4 percent had voted “yes” with 202 of 211 precincts reporting.
The money will fund six building projects, including remodeling of the college’s technology building and the Coleman and Kumm centers. The extra learning space will allow Western to serve an additional 1,000 students by 2020. It will also benefit the region’s economy, Western President Lee Rasch said.
“There is a skilled worker shortage, and it’s in manufacturing and information technology,” Rasch said. “Those are really key areas for us.”
Property taxes will increase by about $39 a year on homes worth $100,000.
The referendum covers:
- $32.6 million for an addition to the technology building to combine the school’s mechanical and tech programs.
- $26.5 million remodel of Coleman Center to update the 89-year-old space with more efficient, flexible learning areas.
- $10.1 million remodel of the Kumm Center, for new health and science facilities.
- $4.9 million for a parking ramp
- $4.1 million expansion of Western’s diesel training facilities.
- $1.6 million for a greenhouse near Seventh and Vine street
Western’s growth will have a $97 million impact on the regional economy by 2034, according to an economic report by NorthStar Consulting Group. Construction alone will have an estimated economic impact of $112 million by 2016.
“It’s going to make a difference,” Rasch said.
West Salem resident Bob Severson, 59, said he supported the referendum because the changes will help people learn valuable workplace skills.
“I went there myself and I think that’s going to be the crux of getting the right training,” Severson said.
Western will borrow the money for the building projects, adding to existing debt of about $58 million.
Wisconsin technical colleges can’t use referendum dollars for operating costs – unlike school districts — so they are less frequent. Western’s last referendum was more than 15 years ago, when 64 percent of voters agreed to pay for a $3 million chunk of the city’s Health Science Center.
A wave of support at the polls Tuesday also appears to have pushed through La Crosse School District’s $15.7 million referendum for a new North Side elementary school.
Voters in the La Crosse School District approved a building referendum. Final numbers show 21,494 yes votes to 10,424 no votes.
A new school will house teachers and students currently split between two aging facilities. Officials plan to build the new facility at 1611 Kane St., where the old Franklin Elementary School building stands.
“It’s going to mean a lot for our community, not just for the North Side,” Superintendent Randy Nelson said.
Taxpayers in the district could pay about $25 more on a home worth $100,000.
The prospect of higher taxes inspired 75-year-old La Crosse resident and retiree Kay Weldy to vote against the referendum.
“The taxes are too high as they are,” she said.
Franklin combined with Roosevelt about three years ago, and both run under the same administration, with grade levels divided between the two buildings.
Roosevelt, built in 1923, is the oldest school building in the district. Builders used clay tiles in the 1955 construction of Franklin, which has led to continual structural problems for the school.
Both buildings were slated for about $6 million of work, including about $2 million already bonded for heating and ventilation upgrades. Officials agreed to opt out of the bonded funds if voters passed today’s referendum.
The new building saves the district about $200,000 in operating costs each year.
Shelby resident David Loeffler, 63, said he voted “yes” on the referendum because he to ensure a quality education for future generations.
“I have a grandson and I want to make sure he gets everything he can,” Loeffler said.
Similar referendums in 2004 and 2008 failed to pass muster with voters, but this is a different time — when the community appears be favoring neighborhood revitalization in the wake of recent economic struggles, Nelson said.
“Things have changed,” he said.
November 6, 2012
From wisconsinrapidstribune.com: “Column: MSTC campus updates good for communities, too” — By Dr. Sue Budjac, president of Mid-State Technical College. Mid-State Technical College, a provider of quality higher education to the people of central Wisconsin for nearly a century, actively is engaged in maximizing our resources to the benefit of our students, communities and local employers. We remain committed to delivering cutting-edge education relevant to the needs of the businesses of today and tomorrow. Recent investments throughout our 2,500-square-mile district illustrate this ongoing desire for quality improvement.
Our MSTC Stevens Point campus is on the move to 1001 Centerpoint Drive. The existing campus on Michigan Avenue served us well, although the space no longer can accommodate today’s quantity of students seeking an MSTC education. The new Stevens Point campus, tentatively scheduled to open in January 2014, gives us an additional 17,000 square feet in which we will expand programs, and offer additional services, courses and conveniences in a much more functional design. Our increased capacity is an investment in workforce needs and economic development and subsequently a substantial bonus for the many central Wisconsin companies who rely on MSTC to provide a highly trained and readily available workforce.
Wisconsin Rapids campus experienced similar innovation last year in the form of the Center for Sustainability and Energy Technology, an investment in educating students for careers in renewable energy. The facility supplies dedicated learning laboratories and testing grounds for students in MSTC’s unique selection of renewable energy associate degree programs. It also houses state-of-the-art technology and equipment designed to provide students with the hands-on education and real-world skills they need to lead central Wisconsin’s drive toward sustainable energy.
Plans are just under way for a major innovative shift at our Marshfield campus. MSTC recently received a portion of a $15 million Wisconsin Technical College System “Making the Future” federal grant designed to improve and enhance training for highly skilled jobs in advanced manufacturing. MSTC has committed our $580,000 share of this grant to developing a stainless steel welding program in Marshfield. This new welding certificate is a direct response to employer feedback and seeks to meet the welding needs of local manufacturers who rely on stainless steel.
Each of these investments in our central Wisconsin communities and economy demonstrate that MSTC is not stagnant, rather a continually evolving community resource that strives to stay ahead of the curve in providing students the skills they need to be competitive in today’s workforce. Meeting workforce needs is a vital element of our core mission. I invite you to learn more about these and other exciting MSTC innovations by visiting our campuses or our website at www.mstc.edu.
October 22, 2012
From fox11online.com: “Grant aims to fill manufacturing jobs” – GRAND CHUTE – Fox Valley Technical College recently received nearly three million dollars to train nearly 400 workers.
To state workforce officials, Travis Rewalt is the perfect example of someone helping fill the manufacturing skills gap.
“I felt like I was learning the basics I needed and I kind of wanted to learn more to keep me on top of the game so that I could be marketable in the future,” said Rewalt of Menasha.
State officials say if more people like Rewalt stepped forward, empty jobs in manufacturing could start being filled.
“The skills gap issue is on the training side and people not having the skills to fill the role because there is a perception that manufacturing is dumb, dirty and dangerous and it’s not,” said Georgia Maxwell, the executive assistant for Wisconsin’s Department of Workforce Development.
The state’s Department of Workforce Development is teaming with Fox Valley Technical College to address the issue. $2.9 million will help train people interested in jobs in welding, machine tool operations, printing and electronics/automation.
“These are the primary areas that we have more demand for jobs and for skilled labor than we have supplies at the moment,” said Steve Straub the dean of Fox Valley Technical College’s Manufacturing and Agriculture Technologies Division.
State and school officials say above any other field, manufacturing currently has the most opportunity. They say the problem is there aren’t enough people like Rewalt who want to learn the necessary skills.
“I guess it comes down to motivation of the individuals. The people that seem to want to do it, don’t have the tools available to them, particularly on the financial end,” said Rewalt.
Manufacturing leaders hope the new grant money will help provide that motivation.
The grant money is funded through the federal Trade Adjustment Act.
October 18, 2012
From brookfield-wi.patch.com: “Photos: Hillcrest Kids Explore Fox River” – College students in Waukesha County Technical College’s two-year Instructional Assistant program worked with third graders from Waukesha’s Hillcrest Elementary Schoolon Wednesday in an environmental, project-based discovery learning opportunity at the Fox River Sanctuary.
October 17, 2012
From marshfieldnewsherald.com: “Medical college officials to visit Point on Thursday” – Representatives from the Medical College of Wisconsin will be in Stevens Point on Thursday to view the community as the possible site for a new campus.
Stevens Point Mayor Andrew Halverson said the representatives will be visiting the campuses of Mid-State Technical College and the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, and do a general tour of the community.
“We’re looking forward to having the opportunity to having them tour our community. We feel like we bring exactly to the table what this college is looking for,” Halverson said.
In June, the medical college announced plans to locate a satellite college in Green Bay and another in central Wisconsin. Stevens Point, along with Wausau, Mosinee and Marshfield, is among the possible locations being considered in the region.
The college will announce its choice for the new campus in November. About 15 students are expected to be part of the first class at each of the two new campuses when they open in 2015, and would expand to 25 students by the second year.
The city announced Sept. 10 its bid for a campus, the main part of which was offering the current Mid-State building on Sims Avenue as the location. The building will be vacated after the college moves downtown as part of the city’s redevelopment project for the former CenterPoint MarketPlace.
The city is demolishing part of the mall and will move MSTC into the former J.C. Penney wing of the mall. The college would be offered about 8,000 square feet of the MSTC building initially, but that could be expanded to as much as 30,000 square feet.
“The Mid-State location is a great plus because it’s already been used as a teaching center,” Halverson said. “We are also the only community with a four-year comprehensive university, which will allow those new students to have a comfort level here.”
October 15, 2012
From lacrossetribune.com: “Grant plan aimed at helping businesses expand” — A new grant program has been proposed for La Crosse County that would help local small businesses develop new product lines, markets and other ways to grow.
If approved by the county board Thursday, the program could begin awarding grants in early 2013, said Brian Fukuda, community development specialist for the county.
Businesses would work with a nonprofit partner to determine their research and development needs, and then be matched with consultants that can guide them toward reaching those goals, said Patti Balacek, Western Technical College’s director of Business and Industry Services and Lifelong Learning.
“I tell everyone that my greatest skill is I know how to find the people who are the experts,” Balacek said.
That assistance could allow companies to expand their customer base domestically and abroad, create new products and lines and find additional ways to market what they have to offer.
The result should be more jobs and economic development in the county, Balacek said. “Growing the businesses we have,” she said, “is a way we can do it without always having to pursue the next big thing.”
The program will be limited to companies with no more than 250 employees — those perhaps poised to grow but less likely to have the staff and resources for research and development.
The county would fund up to 50 percent of the total project costs, with grants ranging from $2,500 to $10,000. The business and its nonprofit partner each must kick in 25 percent, though that match can be in-kind work rather than money, Fukuda said.
The initial grant funding would come from a $10,000 carryover from 2012 and an additional $20,000 in the proposed 2013 budget, Fukuda said. Participating companies would be encouraged to contribute some of the profits from their expanded business to boost the funding pool, he said.
The county’s Economic Development Fund Board would oversee the program, review applicants and award the grants.
Nonprofit partners expected to participate include, but are not limited to, Viterbo University, Western, the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and the La Crosse Area Development Corporation.
Balacek suggested the idea at an economic forum hosted by two area state legislators in fall 2011, noting the state’s similar Workforce Advancement Training Grant program with the Wisconsin Technical College System can’t be used for research.
State Rep. Steve Doyle introduced a bill to establish the program at the state level, but it was not acted on before the legislative session ended, though it received unanimous and bipartisan support in committee, he said.
While this pilot program would be restricted to La Crosse County for now, it could gain state backing if it proves successful locally, supporters said.
Doyle also hopes to re-introduce his bill in the next legislative session.
So far, the plan has drawn nothing but praise, he and Balacek said.
“This is just another tool,” Balacek said, “to try to help businesses that we know are primed and ready but just need a little help.”
October 15, 2012
From jsonline.com: “She’s seeing a bright future” — By James E. Causey - Frenchie Randolph listens to her portable radio and with precision clamps a hose to a pressure unit that will go on a snowblower for a Briggs & Stratton engine.
She uses her foot to bring down the metal fastener and feels around with her hands for a final inspection before dropping the finished product down a tube that empties into a plastic bin. She repeats this step quickly and efficiently.
It seems like tedious work, until you consider that Randolph is blind.
Randolph told me that blind people can do many of the same types of tasks as sighted people if accommodations are made by the employer. But finding work is challenging for people with disabilities, and the recession has made it all the more discouraging. While the unemployment rate nationally is 7.8%, the unemployment rate for people who are visually impaired is 70%.
When I visited Beyond Vision this week, workers were fulfilling contracts for Harley-Davidson Inc., General Electric, Ladish Co., the Department of Defense and others. Beyond Vision is a nonprofit group that provides sustainable employment to individuals who are visually impaired.
All 100 employees have vision problems, from the people who take your calls at the call center to employees such as Randolph who may have made the device that will get your snowblower started one of these upcoming cold winter mornings.
There are a lot of stereotypes associated with people who are sight impaired.
Randolph, 47, who will be honored Oct. 27 in Baltimore, Md., as the employee of the year for the National Industries for the Blind, said some people still assume that if you can’t see, you can’t hear.
“What hurts the most is when people act like blindness is a disease they can catch,” Randolph said.
Some people assume that blind people are unmotivated to work, that they are lazy or dumb.
James Kerlin, president and CEO, of Beyond Vision, said the work that the nonprofit performs is real work and that every worker has his or her own unique story of how to overcome the odds.
Kerlin remembers how diabetes took his father’s sight during the last 20 years of his life. When his mother remarried, his stepfather was blind. He was blinded during World War II when he was hit by a sniper’s bullet.
“My stepfather was more active than me. He would cut the grass using a cane, he used the snowblower, and at night when I was sleeping I heard this scraping outside, I looked out and he was edging the grass,” he said.
Randolph asked me if I ever knew anyone who lost their sight, and I told her that my uncle lost his eyesight after a car accident. Although he regained some of his sight, he’s never quite been the same.
She could relate. Randolph started losing her eyesight at 18. She suffered from glaucoma but her condition was made worse by lead poisoning.
By 22, most of her vision was gone, leaving her only with light and color perception.
“I initially enrolled in college at Alverno, but I withdrew to file for a program that worked for me,” she said.
She attended Milwaukee Area Technical College and the Vision Forward Association for the Blind in order to obtain the skills she needed to succeed.
While in school, she gained custody of her cousins’ three daughters because as she put it her cousin “could not be a mother anymore.”
She didn’t have time for a pity party because she was busy setting an example for them. She became a mother herself, raising her own three children, and earning a certificate in medical transcription in 2004 from the Milwaukee Area Technical College. She could not find a job so she re-enrolled in school and earned her associate’s degree in teaching in last May.
“I really want to work with children with special needs because I can be an inspiration for them. But I want to go back to school next year,” she said.
She is already an inspiration to those around her. She told me she doesn’t really know what she’s going to say when she’s honored later this month.
“I’m still working on that. But it will probably say something to the fact that don’t let anything hold you back because nobody is going to feel sorry for you if you feel sorry for yourself,” she said.
And that’s good advice for anybody.
October 5, 2012
From wausaudailyherald.com: “Transcripted credit gives students jump start on college” – With the start of another school year, students are back to class and hitting the books, but some of those books are actually doing double duty.
Merrill High School and Northcentral Technical College have partnered again this year to offer transcripted credit classes, an opportunity for high school juniors and seniors to enroll in and complete associate degree and technical diploma course work while fulfilling high school graduation requirements.
Courses are taught at the high school by certified high school instructors who follow NTC’s curriculum and competencies in their classrooms and have no tuition cost for the student or the school district. That means students can earn both high school and college credit without ever leaving their high school classroom.
Last year, 239 Merrill students enrolled in NTC’s transcripted credit program, saving the students and their families more than $26,732 in tuition costs. Students are able to apply the credit they earned to one of NTC’s 150-plus program options or transfer their credit to another college or university where NTC has an existing articulation agreement.
Dawn Jameson, business and information technology instructor, sees the value of transcripted credit for her students.
“Giving students the opportunity to start their post-secondary education while in high school just makes sense. Not only does it save the students money and time, but it also provides them curriculum that is relevant and rigorous to their potential career choice. Many colleges want to see students taking classes that are challenging in high school,” Jameson said.
“(Because I’m) certified to teach seven different transcripted credit classes through NTC, my students have the opportunity to earn 22 credits in the business and information technology department alone. This doesn’t include the seven other instructors who offer transcripted credit classes at Merrill High School. What a great opportunity for the students and a great savings to the parents.”
Transcripted credit is a wonderful opportunity for high school students to experience college level coursework at their high school. These courses offer a cost-effective way for students to get a jump-start on earning a college credential, and provide them with skills and knowledge that will lead to employment.
NTC, along with Wisconsin’s other 15 technical colleges, has offered dual enrollment opportunities, free of charge, for high school students for more than 30 years. Merrill High School is one of the many high schools in NTC’s district participating in the transcripted credit program. NTC continues to look for opportunities to expand and partner with area school districts to ensure that local students have the ability to excel no matter what their future may hold.
October 1, 2012
From pricecountydaily.com: “Technology is our friend in the great state of Wisconsin: Celebrating 20 years of video distance learning” – Merging education with the most current technology is now an everyday practice; however, 20 years ago it was a new adventure for both students and instructors. The members of the Northern Wisconsin Educational Communications System (NWECS) Consortium have been using video distance learning to educate students of all ages since it began providing two-way video communication using fiber optic telephone lines back in October of 1992.
Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College (WITC) in Rice Lake, Wisconsin, assumed the management roll of NWECS in July of 1992. The original 13 members are as follows: WITC Rice Lake, WITC Shell Lake, WITC Superior, WITC New Richmond, WITC Shell Lake, CESA 12, Bayfield High School, Washburn High School, South Shore High School, Ashland High School, Superior High School, Drummond High School and UW-Superior. Today, NWECS boasts a membership of 40 K-12 and higher education sites, running Interactive Television classes day and night on the State’s BadgerNet Converged Network (BCN). For a full listing of NWECS sites, please go to www.nwecs.net
Hours of network usage in 2003 totaled 2,184 compared to over 20,000 hours of network usage during this past school year. Traditional and non-traditional students within NWECS use video distance learning to earn credits from the ease of their school’s ITV room, eliminating travel and providing opportunities for class offerings not available on site. High school students can also graduate with a number of transferable general education credits before attending college.
This school year, the NWECS Consortium is running 67 credit classes over the network, serving 46 different high school districts in Wisconsin. Class offerings range from a host of Advanced Placement courses to four different foreign languages to healthcare career courses. NWECS members use both their ITV room and/or mobile cart units to participate in classes via video, connecting student to teacher. New member, Rice Lake School District, will be using a fleet of cart units for instruction in their upcoming Northern Lakes Regional Academy.
The next step in the world of ITV is upgrading from standard definition (SD) to high definition (HD), with a host of useful technology enhancements, like digital recording of classes and participation from desktop and hand-held devices. NWECS school districts of Phillips, Florence, Crandon, Wabeno, Pembine, Laona, Goodman and White Lake have already completed the upgrade. WITC will soon have a total of 12 HD rooms and UW Superior has HD ready rooms awaiting the final conversion.
September 28, 2012
From greenbaypressgazette.com: “Guest column: NWTC turns 100, continues key educational mission” – Happy 100th birthday, Northeast Wisconsin Technical College.
A century ago, NWTC was born upon the creation of local boards of industrial education overseeing continuation and trade schools.
In 1912, it was the exception to have graduated from high school. Yet, the country was in the beginning of massive industrialization that begged for higher and more complex skills.
In a 1927 publication of the Green Bay Board of Vocational Education, it was noted that: “A rapidly changing world forces the American citizen — to face the constantly changing problems and difficulties of an almost kaleidoscopic environment. Even the individual himself is in a ceaseless process of change in his employment, his attitudes and ambitions, his social contacts, his interests and opportunities.”
This phrase is as relevant today as it was almost 85 years ago. The difference is that now most people have a high school diploma, and the minimum requirement for gaining a career with a living wage is education beyond high school.
I am struck, when looking at pictures of students in classes in the beginning decades of NWTC’s history, how many men came to school wearing ties. Wearing a tie spoke of a relatively high status. Attending the Green Bay Vocational School increased your social status. In fact, in the late 1920s a Green Bay Vocational School publication was subtitled The University of the Adult.
Sadly, today, too many times we have heard a graduating high school student say when asked about post-high school plans, “I am just going to the tech.” How many times have we watched community college students demeaned on television comedies, by stand-up comics, or in popular music? What happened?
The importance and status of a higher education technical degree was overtaken by the assumption that the only way to achieve the American Dream is to have a four-year college degree. Don’t get me wrong, achieving a bachelor’s degree or higher is a worthy endeavor and we encourage students to aspire to these degrees. But the vast majority of careers do not require more than a two-year technical associate degree. In fact:
• Two-thirds of students who have an associate degree in a STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) field will earn more than someone with a bachelor’s degree. The overlap of lifetime wages between all associate degree and bachelor degree holders is in the range of 80 percent.
• Many CEOs and business leaders started their careers with an associate degree. Associate degree holders are excellent problem-solvers, have outstanding team and people skills, and have a clear understanding of the world around them.
• Associate degree students graduate with new learning skills and practices that they will use throughout their lives as they keep pace with rapid business and industry changes.
Some think that the rigor and complexity of the education is somehow less than that learned at a four-year college. Actually, hundreds of adults with bachelor’s degrees come to NWTC each year to train for new careers, and they often comment that the intensity and difficulty of the course work is greater than what they experienced while pursuing the bachelor’s degree.
Rapid technological and business process changes require ever higher levels of competency that can only be obtained through applied learning techniques — and applied learning has always been the specialty of Wisconsin’s Technical Colleges. How many of us can design and program a machine that operates on four or five axes? Do you know what to do when a person has a heart attack or is bleeding profusely? I cannot develop a website that will attract someone to a new product, can you? Successfully de-escalating a domestic violence situation is beyond my capability. Never mind fixing a car, installing an electrical system, or repairing infrastructure after a catastrophic event.
We are surrounded each day by highly educated NWTC graduates. We bring them our illnesses, our design challenges, our security needs and our ambitious plans, and they return skilled solutions. They are the firefighters, EMTs, child care providers, network analysts and other specialists who make nearly every area of our economy — and our personal lives — run more efficiently. An education like that is something to be proud of, to celebrate and honor. Join me as we salute our students and celebrate our widespread community support.
Happy birthday, NWTC. Thank you for remaining committed to preparing all people to lead fulfilling lives, earning a living wage. You will achieve your vision of being a cutting-edge, life-long learning college that transforms, strengthens, and inspires our people, our families, our businesses, and our communities for another 100 years.
September 24, 2012
From jsonline.com: “State can be a model for creating skilled workers” — By Tom Still –An expert in invention and entrepreneurship who has forgotten more about both than most people know recently used this line in a room of economic development professionals: “Increasingly, there is no room in America for the unskilled.”
Before the politically correct among us rise up in solidarity for the right to remain unskilled, let’s do something refreshingly honest and concede he’s right.
The current job market certainly suggests so, given the stubborn national unemployment rate three years after the official end of the recession. And so have credible studies on the future of the American workforce, such as the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics forecast and state-specific reports from the Georgetown University Center on the Economy and the Workforce.
Between 2008 and 2018, Georgetown researchers predicted, the need for workers with some kind of postsecondary training or education will grow by 139,000 jobs in Wisconsin. Jobs for high-school graduates and dropouts will grow by 52,000 jobs. By 2018, 61% of all jobs in Wisconsin will require some postsecondary training.
Meeting the need for skilled workers – from people with the right training for today’s high-tech manufacturing to people with advanced college degrees – has been addressed by three recent reports in Wisconsin. That kind of consensus around the size of the problem should mean solutions are achievable, even in a divided political era.
Unveiled a month ago was “The Road Ahead: Restoring Wisconsin’s Workforce Development.” Otherwise known as the Sullivan report, it was a volunteer effort headed by Tim Sullivan, the former Bucyrus International executive who was appointed by Gov. Scott Walker in February to take a hard look at state workforce gaps.
The report stressed that demographics alone are threatening the state’s long-term economic health. The number of senior citizens living in the state will nearly double between 2010 and 2040 (from 777,000 to 1.54 million), the report said, and its working-age population will grow by a miserly 0.4% (from 3.57 million to 3.58 million).
“Baby boomers are also aging out of the workforce, leaving gaps that cannot be met by our current projected population, or the education system in which they develop working skills,” it read.
The Sullivan report’s conclusions ranged from finding ways to encourage immigration of high-skilled, hard-to-find workers to better coordination of state workforce programs to establishing academic and career plans for all students.
Another recent report stressed the importance of science, technology, engineering and math education. “Wisconsin STEM: Navigators to the future” was produced by a group led by Bryan Albrecht, president of Gateway Technical College. Gateway has a successful history of meeting employer needs for skilled labor.
That report noted that so-called STEM occupations are predicted to grow by 17% from 2008 to 2018 and that STEM workers command higher wages, earning 26% more than their non-STEM counterparts. Over the past 10 years, growth in STEM jobs in the United States was three times the rate of non-STEM jobs. Workers with STEM skills are also more likely to keep a job, contribute to a local economy and drive innovation, the report noted.
“STEM education is an imperative to secure our state’s viability in a competitive global economy,” said S. Mark Tyler, president of OEM Fabricators and a contributor to the report.
It established five markers to chart success: Eliminate barriers that prevent learners from exploring STEM careers; emphasize acquiring STEM knowledge and skills for all learners; increase public-private partnerships with a focus on STEM skills; establish a statewide awareness campaign for STEM careers; and invest in development for educators so they can better integrate STEM throughout the curriculum.
Also weighing in is the Department of Public Instruction, which recently issued its Agenda 2017 report. Among its recommendations are increasing Wisconsin’s graduation rate, doubling college and career readiness rates, and increasing the percentage of students scoring proficient in third-grade reading and eighth-grade mathematics.
One specific DPI recommendation: Expand high-school programs for “dual enrollment.” Those are programs that allow high school students to earn college credits and specific career skills through industry certifications and youth apprenticeships.
Indeed, there is precious little room in America for the unskilled. With the help of those who are committed to understanding the problem, perhaps Wisconsin can become a model for giving the unskilled hope and pathways to more rewarding, productive lives.
From wisconsintechnologycouncil.com: “Group hammers out plan to invigorate technology education – and Wisconsin’s economy” – A group of business and education leaders from across Wisconsin has hammered out a plan to spur educational growth in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), which include concepts such as removing barriers to related career exploration and forging more public-private partnerships in this tech-driven area.
The group, Wisconsin STEM, recently released its report, “Navigators to the future,” a sweeping look at the current condition of STEM education in the state today and as well as efforts needed to overcome a drop in the number of youth choosing STEM education and careers in related areas.
Five success markers were established in the report. They are:
- Eliminate barriers that prevent learners from exploring STEM careers
- Increase emphasis on acquiring STEM knowledge and skills for all learners
- Increase public/private partnerships with a focus on STEM skills
- Establish a statewide awareness campaign for STEM careers
- Invest in pre- and post-professional developmental for educators to fully understand and integrate STEM throughout the curriculum.
The report was spurred by the critical need for highly educated and skilled workforce to invigorate Wisconsin’s economy. Skills in science, technology, engineering and mathematics drive innovation and opportunity for Wisconsin workers and employers.
“The number and diversity of organizations represented in the development of this report clearly shows that Wisconsin is ready for a statewide strategy to improve STEM education and training,” said Bryan Albrecht, president of Gateway Technical College. “STEM careers provide some of our state’s best and highest paying jobs and we need to embrace the opportunity to build a STEM talent pipeline from kindergarten through college.”
More than 700 Wisconsin business and education leaders from the public and private sector worked the past six months to forge an agenda outlining the changes and practices needed to build stronger support systems for STEM education and prepare students for in STEM-related career fields.
“Employers increasingly say they are searching for soft skills as much as technical knowledge, meaning they want workers who can pull together as a team, communicate internally and externally adjust to changing conditions and function as lifelong learners,” said Tom Still, president of the Wisconsin Technology Council.
As outlined by the Wisconsin Technology Council, STEM talent underscores the necessity of competing in the global economy. It implies high-technology, problem-solving teaching and learning, and creates an opportunity to bring the classrooms of our state to life through business and industry partnerships.
“STEM education is an imperative to secure our state’s viability in global economy,” said Mark Tyler, president, OEM Fabricators Inc., located in the Wisconsin communities of Neillsville and Woodville.
For further media inquiries, please contact Bryan Albrecht at (262) 564-3610.
What is STEM?
STEM is an acronym for science, technology, engineering and math. STEM teaching and learning is an innovative approach to unlock creativity and problem solving in learners of all ages. Through discovery, modeling and contextual learning students realize their potential and excel in active learning environments. STEM partnerships throughout the state have demonstrated the potential to unlock growth in education and workforce training by integrating the knowledge and skills of science, technology, engineering and mathematics in ways that expand college and career choices for students.
Where can I find this report?
The complete STEM Navigators to the Future report can be found at STEMForward.org.
September 7, 2012
From madison.com: “Campus Connection: UW-Madison, Madison College to pilot test e-textbooks” – UW-Madison, Madison College and more than two dozen other institutions of higher education are taking part in a pilot project to evaluate digital learning materials as an alternative to the more traditional — but costly and bulky — textbooks students have relied on for as long as most can remember.
“By working as part of a community like this where numerous other institutions are involved, this gives us more leverage with the publishers than if we were working alone on examining e-texts,” says Bruce Maas, UW-Madison’s vice provost for information technology. “This project will help us better evaluate the perspectives of the faculty and students who use these digital materials, as opposed to simply listening to what the publishers think is best.”
The initiative also will allow schools to study e-textbooks’ impact on student learning. In addition, it will examine potential cost savings to students and give institutions a better feel for what additional technology support might be needed as the shift continues from print to digital.
“There is so much going on with technology and higher ed, that sometimes the tendency is to just jump on the next bandwagon without a whole lot of thought,” says Turina Bakken, Madison College’s associate vice president for learner success. “So we want to make sure we are looking at this potential innovation very closely and are asking all the right questions along the way. We know for our students here at Madison College, probably more so than anybody else on this list of participating schools, that one size just doesn’t fit all -– from a textbook perspective or a learning style perspective or a financial perspective.”
This project — which is being launched as a partnership between not-for-profits EDUCAUSE and Internet2, and companies McGraw-Hill Education and Courseload — is similar to one UW-Madison and five other large universities took part in during the 2012 spring semester, when these institutions joined forces to bulk purchase e-textbooks for some students in selected courses.
That initial effort, in large part, was driven by the desire to examine ways to curb skyrocketing textbook costs. According to UW-Madison’s most recent Data Digest, students spent an average of $1,140 on books and supplies during the 2011-12 academic year — up from $680 a decade ago.
“The cost issue is certainly an interest of ours and of other intuitions involved in these pilots,” says Brian Rust, the communications director for UW-Madison’s division of information technology. “I doubt we would find it satisfying if we find out that these e-texts cost the same amount of money as a printed text — even if the e-text offers supplementary tools. We’re not against publishers making money but we need to figure out some kind of happy medium whereby students find it appealing to move toward e-texts.”
The test run that’s taking place this fall will give students in selected courses free access to digital learning material selected by faculty. The program involves the use of McGraw Hill e-texts (PDF format) and Courseload, which is an e-reader software that is viewable on any device — including smartphones, tablets and computers — that uses HTML 5. However, UW-Madison officials note that smartphones may not afford the best reading experience due to small screen sizes. For those who prefer traditional print, students may print portions of their e-text or can order a print-on-demand version of the e-text at no charge.
At UW-Madison, some 800 students taking four classes — Human Development 321, Circuit Analysis 230, Philosophy 211 and Marketing Management 300 — will be given free access to e-texts for those specific courses. Similarly, about 600 students taking 15 classes at Madison College will have that same opportunity. Officials at UW-Madison and Madison College said their institutions are each paying $20,000 to participate in, and help subsidize, this pilot project.
UW-Milwaukee is the only other UW System institution taking part in the pilot program, while Madison College is the only two-year institution involved with the national project.
“Textbook costs are a huge burden for students, and in some instances it becomes a real barrier to an education,” says Andrea Deau, Madison College’s academic technology services director. “We’ve done some preliminary analysis and found that e-texts usually cost about 25 to 40 percent less. With some very rough numbers crunching we found that in some of our programs if you took the total cost of textbooks across the degree and you put those into e-text format you could actually subsidize the cost of a laptop and still save the student money. So that’s great. But then we need to make sure e-texts don’t offer an inferior academic experience or add to the digital divide” for students who don’t have easy access to computers, the Internet and other technologies.
The initial pilot program that UW-Madison took part in during the spring 2012 semester produced mixed results. A report released last month that examines this initiative indicates students reported liking the portability of e-texts and the fact that they would likely cost less than traditional textbooks. Conversely, some reported problems with the readability of the texts and that they were difficult to navigate.
In addition, the report notes that most faculty didn’t make use of the available enhanced e-text features, such as providing links to additional learning materials, sharing notes and tracking students’ questions and answers about various topics. Because of this, the report states that “students saw little benefit from the e-text platform’s capability of promoting collaboration with other students or with the professor.”
Rust says one of the main reasons the university decided to continue with this pilot project for at least one more semester is to get a better feel for the potential value some of these enhanced e-text features can provide to students and faculty.
“We like being a part of the process of figuring out what works and what doesn’t, and having a voice in all this,” says Rust. “So we want to take a closer look at how this platform can be used.”
September 7, 2012
From goldcollarcareers.com: “Deal with the skills gap in advanced manufacturing” – Wisconsin’s technical colleges’ success in aligning technical education and manufacturing careers was the focus of an international delegation in Washington, D.C. recently.
Experts from Wisconsin, California, and New York were invited by the U.S. Department of Education to meet with Chinese officials interested in American approaches to involving business and industry leaders in the development of education programs. Wisconsin leaders focused on the technical colleges’ approach to developing “gold-collar careers,” which offer rewarding opportunities in high-tech manufacturing to those with a passion for pushing the limits of machining, electronics, IT, and other technologies.
Wisconsin’s representatives were Jim Mackey, the Wisconsin Technical College System’s manufacturing program expert, and Dan Conroy, vice president of human resources for the Nexen Group, a leading manufacturer in northwestern Wisconsin and a close partner of Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College.
“Chinese manufacturers are facing some of the same challenges we are, including worker preparation and closing skills gaps,” said Mackey. “We had a great response from everyone involved.”
“The meeting was amazing,” said Conroy. “There was much openness and sharing. All the participants were congenial and engaged. It certainly reinforced the importance of our efforts – the urgency of the skill shortage issue – and highlighted the fact that we have to keep chasing this.”
This was the second time that U.S. and Chinese officials convened on the topic of career and technical education, with the focus of this session on the unique and critical role Wisconsin employers play in developing the curriculum for each education or training program.
“I believe Nexen Group is the standard for other manufacturers to follow when it comes to promoting “gold-collar careers,” said Bob Meyer, president of WITC “I’m pleased that the Chinese educators were able to expose themselves to a best practice partnership as represented by Jim Mackey and Dan Conroy. The Chinese delegation learned from the best in the nation.”
Local and regional employers serve on advisory committees for each technical college program. These committees rely on the employers’ expertise to ensure that courses and programs are aggressively modified to consistently reflect current industry practices. The employers also provide valuable local labor market insights, which allow the colleges to be confident that program graduates will find employment upon graduation.
“Knowing both Jim and Dan well, I guarantee that this was a productive exchange, and one that really showcased the great work being accomplished by all of our colleges in delivering manufacturing programs that truly reflect the needs of employers,” said Mark Tyler, president of the Wisconsin Technical College System Board.
Roughly 90 percent of Wisconsin technical college graduates are placed in jobs within six months of graduation. This latest recognition of the high-quality education and training programs offered by the technical colleges comes as the state tightens its focus on job creation and positioning for Wisconsin’s employers to be even more globally competitive.
“The success of WITC, as well as the other 15 Technical Colleges in Wisconsin, is dependent on strong working relationships with business and industry,” said Meyer. “And there is no stronger partner in that regard than Nexen Group under Dan Conroy’s leadership. Not only does Nexen Group invest itself heavily with participation on WITC’ advisory committees to strengthen our programmatic offerings that hone our graduates’ capabilities, but the company is also extremely dedicated to developing career pathways in the K-12 system by clearly articulating all of the exciting and challenging manufacturing career options available.”
August 30, 2012
From sacbee.com: “Success on the GED Test is now just clicks away in Wisconsin” – In striving to provide more adult learners throughout the state with a high school credential and basic technology skills, Wisconsin is partnering with GED Testing Service to offer the GED test on computer. Online registration and scheduling will be available to test-takers in select areas. Testing began on August 21, 2012.
“As society integrates technology into almost every facet of life, and the job market continues to be shaped by technology, adults will need basic technology skills to be successful,” said Randy Trask, president of GED Testing Service. “Moving the GED test to computer helps adults demonstrate necessary basic technology skills and makes their testing process easier and more efficient. We are so pleased that Wisconsin is our partner in this important endeavor.”
Several new services will streamline the testing process and benefit adult learners who often need to move very quickly into jobs or training programs. These benefits include:
Online scheduling and registration that is available 24/7
- More testing flexibility for test-takers: They can choose when and where to take their test
- Instant unofficial score reports: Faster results mean adults can apply for jobs or immediately begin studying if they need to retake a subject area
- Enhanced test security
“Wisconsin is excited to launch the first two of 76 sites that will be offering computer-based testing for the GED test,” said State Superintendent Tony Evers. “Wisconsin’s technical colleges and community-based organizations are partners with us to help those who have not graduated from high school gain a GED credential or other credential. For many, this is their first step to family-supporting jobs or further education.”
Wisconsin’s GED program will be fully functional with computer-based tests by Fall 2013. As Wisconsin’s elected State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Evers administers the GED test and High School Equivalency Diploma (HSED) program. The state issues just under 9,000 high school completion credentials a year to adults; about 76 percent are based on completion of the five GED tests.
According to state GED program leadership, the computerized test is initially being offered in two locations before it is expanded across the state. The testing centers offering computer-based testing are located at:
- Mid-State Technical College, Wisconsin Rapids
- Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, Green Bay
Since the national launch in January, more than 9,000 computerized GED tests have been delivered in at least 23 states and test-takers have taken advantage of the new benefits. “The computer test was easy to use and the instant score report helped motivate me to finish the rest of the sections,” said Eric Martinez, who was one of the first individuals in Nebraska to take the GED test on computer. GED Testing Service expects more than half of all states to offer the test on computer by the end of the year.
The GED test on computer is the same test currently offered on paper and pencil. Whether a candidate takes the test on paper or computer, it must be taken in person at an official GED testing center. The GED test is never offered online.
States currently offering the GED test on computer are preparing for the new 2014 GED test, which will only be available on computer. Offering the test on computer before January 2014 allows testing centers to become familiar with the new system and better prepare test-takers.
For adults interested in taking or learning more about the GED test on computer, please visit www.GEDtestingservice.com.
August 28, 2012
From fvtc.edu: “National award for Venture Center Grad” – David Lindenstruth, owner of Appetize, Inc., the largest operator of Mongolian grill restaurants in Wisconsin, was named recipient of the National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship (NACCE) “Alumni Entrepreneur Award” for 2012.
Lindenstruth currently owns and operates five HuHot Mongolia Grill restaurants located in Appleton, Eau Claire, Green Bay, Kenosha, and Madison, in addition to two restaurants in Indiana. He received his business start-up and entrepreneurial growth training through the Venture Center at Fox Valley Technical College. These experiences consisted of both the Venture Center’s E-Seed and Pro-Seed training sessions.
The recognition is one of four annual award categories of the NACCE that honors individuals for their hard work and commitment to entrepreneurship. Lindenstruth will receive his award at the national NACCE Conference in Chicago on October 9.