Last year the Micro Nano Technology Education Center kicked off a new era in the world of technician education. They created a new journal. The Journal of Advanced Technological Education (JATE ) provides a place for community college faculty, students, and others, to share their findings from working on grants funded by the Advanced Technological Education (ATE) program at the National Science Foundation (NSF).
For many years, the NSF's ATE program has been investing in technical education programs. One of the requirements for grantees is to write a report every year summarizing their findings. Unfortunately, two year colleges do not incentivize publishing. As a result, many of the lessons that faculty learn through these projects are lost and never shared with the greater community.
JATE seeks to remedy that problem.
Many of the challenges faced by technical programs are universal. How do programs attract students? How do programs ensure that education is accessible, equitable and inclusive? How do programs fund their efforts? How do programs recruit industry partners?
JATE will provide a useful forum for helping programs and instructors learn from each other.
This morning I read two papers in JATE with good examples of lessons with a wide application. These were:
They both covered podcasting but from different angles. The two podcasts have different goals. Lesiecki’s podcast serves faculty who are interested in the changing nature of technical work. The other, “Talking Technicians,” features interviews with technicians from different companies describing their jobs and what they’ve learned.
Each article focused on different aspects of podcasting. Lesiecki’s presented podcasting as a means of professional development for faculty. In this vision, each podcast would be accompanied by other learning materials.
Kazarinoff described many of technical details that go in to producing a podcast such as getting the sound right, finding the right subscription platform, and some of the analytics.
Talking Technicians has published 24 episodes to date. In my view, one of the most interesting findings was the information gleaned from the interviews. The different kinds of responsibilities required for working in a large company vs a small company and the responsibilities in common will resonate with instructors in many technical fields whether they teach biotechnology or advanced manufacturing.
The takeaways from the 24 interviews are also important. The interviewees noted that technical positions can be rewarding life-long careers that pay a living wage and offer benefits and all of those interviewed credited community college programs with their entrée to technical careers.