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21st century skills at work in Daytona.

Digital literacy. Inventive thinking. Communication skills. Quality output. These 21st century skills are a far cry from what most of us grew up with back when reading, writing and `rithmetic were the buzzwords of the day.

But that's where we are today, and these are the skills that students will need to succeed in the future. And community colleges are often the bridge between the high school student who may not have developed those skills and the work force they will enter that demands it. To help students achieve these skills, community colleges have to effectively integrate technology into the curriculum, and often must overcome a variety of hurdles in doing so.

Community colleges have a dual role in educating students today. First, they take on the position of a university, which, according to Arthur Levine, president of Columbia Teachers College and author of Higher Education: A Revolution Externally, Evolution Internally, is responsible for the creation, preservation, transmission, application and maintenance of knowledge.

They also are the main source for maintaining a connection between the many constituents of the college -- from commuting students, to adjunct professors, to alumni, to vendor partners. Today, it is almost impossible to stay connected without the help of technology.

Daytona Beach Community College in Florida shows a unique understanding of the challenges facing community colleges and the need to integrate technology into the learning environment. The college, along with its educational partners Volusia and Flagler County public school systems, recently unveiled the Advanced Technology Center (ATC), a facility designed to allow students of different ages and education levels to attend classes that have technology integrated throughout, speeding their students' development of 21st century skills.

The Need for a Program

The Advanced Technology Center came about because the three partners recognized the need for an innovative program that would equip students with the technology skills they would need across a variety of career paths, ranging from computer-aided design to automotive repair.

Though many schools across the country recognize the need to incorporate technology into their curricula, Daytona Beach Community College's appreciation of how technology is incorporated is critical to the overall effectiveness of the program.

A visit to the ATC shows the latest desk-tops, notebooks and workstations, as well as servers and storage products. Rand Spiwak, executive vice president at Daytona Beach Community College, said this is the result of "technology advancing so rapidly that our equipment was becoming obsolete in two to three years. [At the same time,] PC technology was being integrated into all aspects of the college, thus demanding more resources, support services and technical expertise."

In October, the school's Campus Computing Project addressed this issue in its 12th Annual Campus Computing Study, a national survey of computing and information technology in U.S. Higher Education.

The study, which surveyed nearly 600 higher education institutions in the United States, identified several key issues for college IT managers. Integrating information technology into instruction was the single most important IT issue cited by the surveyed colleges. Community colleges rank near the top of all colleges using course management tools, with more than 75 percent of those campuses surveyed using course management tools in some form.

Daytona realized that in order to continue offering the best resources to their students, it would need a partner with a proven track record in keeping technology current and offering competitive prices and cost-effective services to community colleges.

"Our partnership with Dell has enabled us to make smart decisions on when to spend money," Spiwak said. "Not only are we spending less, we're spending more wisely. This confidence is what enabled us to concentrate on developing a program that focuses on our students and offers them the best possible education."

Serving the Community

At the Advanced Technology Center, students from Daytona Beach Community College and from both high school systems attend classes, use the latest technologies, learn 21st century skills, and prepare to enter the work force.

Students not enrolled at the community college, must submit applications to the center if they wish to attend. In addition to having at least a 2.5 grade point average, students must have a good attendance record and a good conduct record and make arrangements to complete courses that are not offered at the ATC but are required for high school graduation.

They also are required to have FCAT writing, math, and reading scores equal to or better than state requirements for graduation; and submit an essay of interest.

Once enrolled in the ATC, students choose from one of three programs: computer technology, construction, manufacturing and engineering, and automotive services. Within these three program areas, the center offers 18 occupational certificates in technology and associate's in science degree programs. All programs provide extensive workplace experiences through a system of cooperative education pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship programs.

The students from Flagler and Volusia, through dual enrollment in their high school and the college, have the opportunity to earn credit toward a postsecondary occupational certificate or associate's degree free of charge.

Juniors who enroll may complete most, if not all, of the requirements for an occupational certificate, or approximately half of what is needed for an associate's degree by the time they graduate from high school. Upon high school graduation, students may complete their AAS or AS degree program at the center as an adult student.

Even though high school students attend classes at the Advanced Technology Center, they get to go back to their high school and participate in traditional events like prom and graduation. After completing their programs, the students receive their high school diplomas from their home district high schools, as well as receive certificates and/or degrees from Daytona Beach Community College.

To graduate, students must meet certain requirements approved by the state and the individual governing boards. Additionally, the center conducts frequent reviews of the students' academic progress to make sure they are all on track to complete their programs.

Daytona Beach Community College's Advanced Technology Center is a great example of how the collaboration between school districts, community colleges and a technology provider such as Dell can enable students to develop and maintain the skills they will continue to use throughout their careers.
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Daytona Beach Community College, Florida
Author:Rodrigues, Bill
Publication:Community College Week
Geographic Code:1U5FL
Date:Mar 4, 2002
Previous Article:From support to strategic partnerships.
Next Article:EtherneTV replaces plain old cable.

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