January 21, 2003

IT@Emory expands curriculum

By Eric Rangus erangus@emory.edu

Emory’s Center for Lifelong Learning (CLL) has offered information technology and computer courses for several years, however they never really were a major part of the curriculum.

That’s changing.

Last fall, the center rolled out IT@Emory, its vastly expanded computer training section. Previously, the center had offered perhaps a dozen computer classes each quarter. IT@Emory presented 33. This winter, that number will jump to 45, a 30 percent increase.

Part of that increase is directly related to requests from the Emory community, which embraced the wider range of continuing education computer courses wholeheartedly.

“A lot of what we’re doing has been driven by feedback from the students in our current classes,” said Jon Horn, program coordinator for IT@Emory. “For instance, people will take our [Microsoft] Access class and say, ‘What else can I take? I want to do more with this.’”

Last year, the company CLL hired to teach its computer classes went bankrupt, leaving behind a well-stocked computer lab and a gaping hole in Emory’s continuing education.

It was then that Horn, who had taught a few classes at the center over the years, approached CLL Director Steve Stoffle with a plan to ramp up the center’s computer classes. Not only did Horn want to increase the number of classes offered, he also wanted to present some higher end classes for more advanced users.

“The center had offered computer classes for several years, but they were always very basic: Microsoft Windows or Word,” said Horn, an Emory College graduate who—until the creation of IT@Emory—ran his own web and educational consulting business. Now, for all intents and purposes, he and Nicole Foerschler, IT@Emory’s student coordinator, are Emory employees. “The center just seemed like a nice fit to do more,” he continued.

IT@Emory’s facilities are top notch. The computer lab, located at the CLL on the Briarcliff Campus, consists of 14 fully loaded PCs. IT@Emory has an overflow lab in the basement of Thompson Hall, as well, where some classes specific to the Emory community are held.

Class size is limited to 12, which allows for a good deal of one-on-one interaction with instructors, and the average size of most classes is eight.

“Jon had a vision of where tech training was going,” said Stoffle, a self-professed non-techie. “I could tell he was energized by it. I told him, ‘Great, run with it.’”

IT@Emory’s classes are grouped into four categories: basic computer courses (for students who are just learning how to use a computer), Internet courses (for website development), software courses (for specific software applications, some of them advanced) and IT skills courses (for technology professionals).

Courses are being marketed to the Emory community, which makes up about half of IT@Emory’s student body, and also to the community at large, specifically small businesses, which represents an expansion of audience.

“The momentum has really started to snowball,” Stoffle said. “We think this is going to be a huge resource not only to Emory and Emory-affiliated institutions, but also to small and medium-sized businesses that don’t have their own in-house training facility and maybe can’t afford to go to the competition.”

The numbers stack up in Emory’s favor. Most of IT@Emory’s offerings are priced between 25 and 50 percent less than other computer training companies around town.
While IT@Emory doesn’t have any formal training relationships with any campus
departments, Horn said he has spoken to the Goizueta Business School and Human Resources about establishing a more concrete coupling.

One class that is specific to Emory is an offering Horn planned with Emory webmaster John Mills called “Emory Web Standards.” The one-day, seven-hour course scheduled for Feb. 17 will school members of the Emory community on the guidelines of pages on Emory’s web servers.

Signups for the winter quarter of IT@Emory (as well as the rest of the CLL) have begun. The winter quarter starts Jan. 27 and runs through March. IT@Emory courses are offered throughout that time. For more information or to sign up, visit the center’s website (www.emory.edu/eve) and follow the IT@Emory link or call 404-727-6000.

A full schedule and description of classes is on the website. Like all other center courses, members of the Emory community receive a 15 percent discount on tuition.






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