Icon for: Ann-Claire Anderson

ANN-CLAIRE ANDERSON

Center for Occupational Research and Development (CORD)...
Public Discussion
  • Icon for: Ann-Claire Anderson

    Ann-Claire Anderson

    Lead Presenter
    PI, NSF ATE project, "Preparing Technicians for the Future of Work"
    May 4, 2020 | 04:38 p.m.

    Welcome! I'm Ann-Claire Anderson, the PI for the NSF Advanced Technological Education (ATE) program funded project, Preparing Technicians for the Future of Work. Our team has identified cross-cutting knowledge and skills that STEM technicians from all disciplines will need upon completion of a program of study. We've done this through industry site visits; interviews with technicians and technician supervisors; regional convenings of academic faculty, technical faculty, and employers; working groups comprised of representatives from industry and ATE Centers; and ongoing conversations like this forum.

    We're focused on three specific knowledge and skill areas that will help “future proof” STEM Technicians, but we can discuss those later. Let's start with your observations and experience.

    • What changes in career and technical education do you think will be prompted by Future of Work-driven issues?
    • How are your industry/employer partners helping you identify and address potential challenges related to rapidly-changing technology in their sectors?
    • What opportunities for cross-disciplinary curriculum development and teaching are available in your area?

    I look forward to our time online together!

  • Icon for: David Touretzky

    David Touretzky

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 4, 2020 | 11:16 p.m.

    I was excited to see references to AI and robotics in your video. What specifically are you teaching students about AI? How much do you think they already know about AI? How much do you think they need to know?

  • Icon for: Ann-Claire Anderson

    Ann-Claire Anderson

    Lead Presenter
    PI, NSF ATE project, "Preparing Technicians for the Future of Work"
    May 5, 2020 | 09:40 a.m.

    The answer presently is the not entirely satisfactory "it depends."  We are trying to be truly future-focused and companies are very often trying to address the problems of the here-and-now.  That said, as we need to prepare technicians for future technologies.  The good news is that AI and automation are making tasks easier and increasing productivity, and may be easier to troubleshoot.  The bad new is that when they break, it's usually outside talent that needs to fix it. So this is a potential area for growth in STEM technician training. From our observations and conversations -- and they are ongoing -- it appears that technicians will not be the developers of AI functions and features but the end users of applied AI.

    We're two years into the project with two more to go, so our understanding is evolving. What are your thoughts about the need for AI skills by 1- and 2-year program completers?

  • Icon for: David Touretzky

    David Touretzky

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 5, 2020 | 01:36 p.m.

    I think autonomous robots should become a huge growth area for technician jobs. It's not just about replacing a servo motor or sensor when it breaks, it's about adapting a new robot to its work environment, or adapting the environment to make it more robot-friendly. Understanding what the robot needs or is looking for, and what is going on when it fails to perform as expected, requires a knowledge of AI concepts such as machine vision and pattern recognition, but doesn't necessarily require sophisticated programming skills. As robots move beyond warehouse and light manufacturing work and become more common in retail applications (they're already monitoring store shelves at Walmart), and eventually personal service applications in the home, opportunities for technicians should grow.

    You may also want to consider that in the future, students will be learning about AI in K-12, so they'll already have some familiarity before they begin their technician training. And remember that many kids today grow up talking with Alexa before they even reach kindergarten. Our project, which you can learn about by following the link to my video, is developing national guidelines for teaching AI  in K-12. We have a Resource Directory with links to lots of good materials, and more are on the way.

  • Icon for: Patti Curtis

    Patti Curtis

    Facilitator
    May 5, 2020 | 10:37 a.m.

    This is super thought provoking.  I am curious about entry points, number of credit hours required,  and locus of delivery?  Will all these options vary from one industry sector to the next?  Can students/workers self-select and receive credit for on- or in-demand lessons or units?  Can we move away from the traditional 2-year community college technical degree and allow for on the spot yet scaffolded and accredited learning?

  • Icon for: Ann-Claire Anderson

    Ann-Claire Anderson

    Lead Presenter
    PI, NSF ATE project, "Preparing Technicians for the Future of Work"
    May 5, 2020 | 11:17 a.m.

    In most community and technical colleges, there are two sides of the house: credit and noncredit or academic/degree granting and workforce education. They don't always work together even though they are helping students learn the same skills, in many cases.  So that's a complex issue to be addressed. US Dept of Ed OCTAE division (career, technical and adult ed) has funded a couple of projects on Stackable Credentials. (Full disclosure, I work for one of the organizations that was funded.) The U.S. education system has traditionally focused on earning a series of academic credentials along a career pathway.  This is fine but the credits don't always align with what employers want or need.  Stackable credentials allow students to learn the skills they need but also credits.  They can leave a program to go to work with credits in hand and then come back to school and not have to repeat prior coursework.  The credits align with degree programs within a career pathway as well, so this type of system makes sense for adult students. More options both short-term and long-term. While these programs are local or regional, they usually offer exams for industry recognized credentials for skill attainment.  To learn more, see  https://cte.ed.gov/initiatives/stackable-credentials-tool-kit

    An updated version of this toolkit is coming out very soon.

     

  • Icon for: Patti Curtis

    Patti Curtis

    Facilitator
    May 8, 2020 | 02:18 p.m.

    Thanks Ann-Claire, stackable credits and digital badges seem to be the way to go.  What percentage of community colleges are offering these now? And what are the barriers to making these options universally available?

  • Icon for: Ann-Claire Anderson

    Ann-Claire Anderson

    Lead Presenter
    PI, NSF ATE project, "Preparing Technicians for the Future of Work"
    May 8, 2020 | 03:29 p.m.

    Good questions,Patti, particularly in light of the potential long term changes to education and to work in the COVID or post-COVID environment. There's an April 2020 study, underwritten by an online education company (MindEdge), that looked at alternative forms of credentialing.  Very few of the respondents were from 2-year colleges, so the results are interesting but not helpful in answering your first question. The findings about delivery methods may also mean very little because the amount of face-to-face classroom instruction has changed drastically over the last few months.

    The study does ask some good questions that I would like community colleges to answer, such as:

    • Is the approval process for creating alternative credentials the same internally as the process for creating traditional credentials?
    • What is the internal process for creating alternative credentials (and who has input)?
    • What hurdles are you facing (in implementing alternative credentials)?

     

     

  • Icon for: Dave Miller

    Dave Miller

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 5, 2020 | 01:07 p.m.

    Terrific video and great set of questions you've prompted in your opening post, Ann-Claire. We're having similar conversations across the campus at the University of Rochester, and I'm curious what thoughts your team might be giving to weaving your work into K-12 curriculum development, PD for teachers, and perhaps also for schools of education that are preparing future teachers. Industry and employer partnerships are certainly a key element in the future-of-work equation, and so I'm also wondering what you have discovered as key interest indicators from your partners and how deeply they are willing to engage in University/Non-Profit/Industry collaborations. Thanks!

  • Icon for: Ann-Claire Anderson

    Ann-Claire Anderson

    Lead Presenter
    PI, NSF ATE project, "Preparing Technicians for the Future of Work"
    May 5, 2020 | 03:31 p.m.

    Working backwards on your comment -- business and industry involvement with community college programs is critical; those programs cannot exist in a vacuum. But the degree of involvement varies.  At the secondary level, the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) legislation requires experiential or work-based learning of some kind, which means that partnerships with appropriate sites/mentors must be established and maintained.  Many states require that secondary CTE programs have local business advisory groups in order to qualify for Perkins funding of those programs. Strong -- i.e. active -- engagement from employers leads to stronger programs.  There are models of strong employer engagement at the community college level in which those partners have a true voice in program development and updates. Definitely not always the case. When business partners are asked to do real work (thinking about, helping design a program), they know that their input is valued and they are more invested in the success of the technical program.

    To the top of your question-- about K-12 curriculum development, etc--
    As a project team we've talked about what our next project might be. We have two more years on this project which is specifically aimed at community college technical education and  includes updates to curriculum and faculty development. Our industry advisory board has asked us to think about how we might reach elementary and secondary students and we are definitely open to the idea.  There are lots of good models of up-and-coming technologies being taught at the K-12 level that we can call upon for inspiration.  I think  the interdisciplinary nature of this project would transfer well to lower grades.

  • May 5, 2020 | 03:51 p.m.

    Your video resonated with me on multiple levels. In addition to being PI on CyberMiSTS, a project to identify what works in teacher PD & curriculum for cybersecurity in middle school, I am on the advisory board of the Cybersecurity degree program at my local community college.  Industry that understands that community colleges are delivering "work ready, day one" graduates are interested in getting involved in program development and update.  But some companies (possibly sectors?) seem slow to realize the benefit of 2 year technical education vs. 4 year traditional college.  Have you encountered this, and if so, have you had any success in changing the mindset in Corporate America?

    Please take a look at the Showcase video for the CyberMiSTS project - perhaps there may be some synergy with your future work?

  • Icon for: Ann-Claire Anderson

    Ann-Claire Anderson

    Lead Presenter
    PI, NSF ATE project, "Preparing Technicians for the Future of Work"
    May 6, 2020 | 11:10 a.m.

    I will definitely watch your video -- I do think there may be synergy between our projects.  Our approach to cyber, data, and business knowledge involves their integration into coursework across STEM technology programs. There are pieces of these skills that all new technicians should have -- so we have about 45 subtopics/skills within the three big categories. When we bring industry representatives who hire technicians and technician educators together, they really do understand the need for this approach. 

    As you may have experienced, there are still kingdoms -- where instructors are reluctant to learn new technology or content that needs to be taught--and silos--where the credit and noncredit sides of the college are not coordinating efforts for non-duplication or to ensure credential stackability.

    So, two things that have worked.  One is providing smaller chunks of instructional material that can be infused into any course by any instructor. Designed to be non-threatening and easy-to-use. John Sands at the CSSIA center has done the proof-of-concept by developing short IoT lesson cards.

    The other thing that works is bringing cross-disciplinary groups of industry and education together to learn about the topics and to identify challenges that could be addressed by an ongoing Regional Network. COVID-19 has meant that we will probably pivot to some sort of virtual model for this but we will see what the future holds.

     

  • Icon for: Marjorie Bequette

    Marjorie Bequette

    Facilitator
    May 5, 2020 | 06:28 p.m.

    Thank you for your video, and the work behind it. I'm curious about how students are responding to the new expectations -- are they scared, excited, both? Does this approach make sense to them? Are there parts of this approach that are harder or easier for them to manage?

  • Icon for: Ann-Claire Anderson

    Ann-Claire Anderson

    Lead Presenter
    PI, NSF ATE project, "Preparing Technicians for the Future of Work"
    May 7, 2020 | 09:58 a.m.

    I'm not sure students will notice a difference in programs or expectations.  As new technologies are added to course content, other content changes or shifts out to accommodate new material. Something that we discuss quite often is whether, as new content is added to 4-year engineering technology programs, content is being moved from the 4-year program down into 2-year programs. And if this is the case, how this might affect the fundamentals of 2-year programs. 

     

  • Icon for: Michael Daley

    Michael Daley

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 6, 2020 | 07:15 a.m.

    Nice video! I have been reading reports from consulting firms that highlight the significant role augmented and virtual reality will have in many jobs including with technicians. Are you seeing the companies you partner with implementing this technology? If so, what experiences prepare workers for engaging with this technology in their roles?

  • Icon for: Ann-Claire Anderson

    Ann-Claire Anderson

    Lead Presenter
    PI, NSF ATE project, "Preparing Technicians for the Future of Work"
    May 6, 2020 | 10:55 a.m.

    Great questions! Simulations are already widely in use and AVR is well on its way. For example, AR has been developed for training technicians through the NSF ATE  Advanced Technology Environmental Education Center at www.ateec.org. Their Water INTENsE project  developed augmented and/or virtual reality curriculum for water/wastewater technologies and agriculture/water conservation education in two-year colleges. See https://ateec.org/wiite/introduction/

    There are many other really exciting projects in community colleges. Visit
    http://4teamm.org/news/2018/05/25/virtual-reality-digital-manufacturing/ and ATECentral to learn more.

    On the industry floor, AR is being used in troubleshooting machine failures, Technology today allows a technician to wear the goggles or headset and see the part of a machine for comparison with what she sees on the screen. She can see the documentation for that piece of equipment in the lens/screen. It also allows for remote coaching where a supervisor or someone offsite can be called and can see via AR what the problem looks like. GlobalFoundries is using this type of technology.

    In addition to working with my college colleagues, I have put myself on a number of industry email lists so that I get notified of their adoption of new technologies and also can attend webinars on the same. 

  • Icon for: Jameela Jafri

    Jameela Jafri

    Facilitator
    May 7, 2020 | 06:29 a.m.

    Can you share a little about how participants in the trainings will be placed into industry? I'm also curious how local needs are informing the kinds of trainings that are happening in associate degree programs. If a community college was interested in transforming their technician education program, what are some of the considerations that you would recommend, based on your experience.

     
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    Michael I. Swart
  • Icon for: Ann-Claire Anderson

    Ann-Claire Anderson

    Lead Presenter
    PI, NSF ATE project, "Preparing Technicians for the Future of Work"
    May 7, 2020 | 05:17 p.m.

    Participants are placed into internships, apprenticeships or jobs in industry in part because of strong relationships between the college technical program and its faculty and local/regional employers.  Many technical faculty have come from industry and thus have the credibility to recommend good students to hiring managers and supervisors.  It can happen without partnerships,  but that's not ideal. Employer engagement -- in which there is open dialogue about what technology is changing, what's coming next -- is important. Not everybody knows how to cultivate these relationships, but the Employer Engagement Toolkit from the Advancing Credentials project is a really good place to start. I think they are also updating this toolkit at some point soon.

  • Icon for: Marilyn Barger

    Marilyn Barger

    May 7, 2020 | 08:43 p.m.

    Hello Jameela 

    I am Marilyn Barger and a member of the leadership team of this NSF ATE Project and am the PI of FLATE (ATE Center for Manufacturing in FL). Community and technical colleges work very close with their local industry to define KSA's needed. For small and short term needs, CC's would typically turn the job over to the short term training division to develop and deliver.  It the skills are missing from our technician graduates, we would work with industry to close that gap however was appropriate (new module in a course, a new course, new hands-on activity, and possibly a new program. We meet regularly and do much of the job placement right in the departments (by faculty).  

    For transforming programs we always have to keep in mind a number of things; Here are the top considerations.

    1. Are there jobs for my grads?  (we are required to do an economic study to support the need for a new program's grads and there have to be a sufficient # of jobs to make the program cost-effective

    2. equipment, space, and other resource needs

    3. Likelihood of attracting a FT faculty for the program

    4. The lifecycle of the program (is just trendy - or filling a need for a short time?)

    Is that the kind of information you were looking for?

    And, thanks for visiting our video!

     
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    Ann-Claire Anderson
  • May 9, 2020 | 09:41 a.m.

    Really interesting project!  I chair the Civil Engineering Technology (CET) program at Springfield Technical Community College and we are conducting a program review that entails the topics of industry partnerships, stackable credentials, targeted certificates of completion, coordination with workforce development/non-credit classes, among many others.  CET is sometimes left out of the discussion of "high tech" or "future of work", being viewed as a more traditional field--one that does not evolve at the rate that others do.  This impacts interest in the field and especially stifles engagement with underrepresented groups.  Looking forward to doing more research about this initiative and would love to get involved as a community college educator and technology program lead!

  • Icon for: Ann-Claire Anderson

    Ann-Claire Anderson

    Lead Presenter
    PI, NSF ATE project, "Preparing Technicians for the Future of Work"
    May 10, 2020 | 02:25 p.m.

    Thanks for your interest, Beth. II'll can put you on an email list to receive updates and information about upcoming activities, if you wish.  

    I have a question you might be able to help me with: As technology evolves and new skills are integrated into 4-year engineering programs, are you seeing some skills moving down into the two-year CET programs? 

  • May 12, 2020 | 03:03 p.m.

    S'great to recognize the role of technicians in the future and to partner with companies to have you finger on the pulse of what will be needed. What kind of data does this project produce?  What constructs constitute your underlying theoretical approach? How do you operationalize those constructs? Measure them? Analyze them? How do they address your research questions? How do your findings re-integrate into the continuing development of your program?

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