Fanshawe's IT Mission

  • Sep 08, 2005
  • Vicky Smith
  • Career advancement

Fanshawe College's mission statement is "Community driven, student focused." I have had the unique opportunity of being involved with Fanshawe as a student, instructor and member of the Business Advisory Board. In fact, my writing for the Career's column was sparked after taking two business writing courses at Fanshawe.

As a London citizen, I had no idea of the College's focus to involve the business community in keeping their programs progressive. I became aware of many exciting innovations by sitting on the Business Advisory Board. Denise Seguin, Chair of the Information Technology Division informed me the School Advisory Committees are moving to a new model called cluster committees. Information Technology, for example, will have its own cluster committee where the advisory members will be from the IT industry in London. Some of the members will be from London Life, London Health Sciences Centre and Canada Trust. Now the group will focus specifically on IT issues and help improve the quality of services. All programs are reviewed once every three to five years to ensure input from the business community. A program can be reviewed sooner if the need arises. All the other divisions will be set up in the same manner.

As an instructor in the Information Technology Division, I came to understand how student focused the College is. My main performance evaluation came from the students who took the courses. The regular course evaluations offer students a tremendous amount of input in continuously improving programs. One of the main ways professors stay current with new innovations in IT is keeping in touch with graduates who are working in the field. Often alumni inform the department of pre-releases to software.

I asked Denise Seguin and several coordinators - Garth Santor, Computer Programmer Analyst Program; Jim Cooper, Computer Programmer Program, Alice Beddoe , Office Administration - General Program; Brian Turford, Internet Technologist Program and John Lidzbarski, Computer Systems Technician Program - why potential students should consider Fanshawe College over other educational opportunities in IT available in London? The universal response was the focus in learning is on providing a variety of experiences in the classroom to build practical skills. Brian Turford stated the students have a unique opportunity because of partnerships the College has, for example, with IBM, Nortel and Cisco. Using these companies' curriculums and equipment simulates their actual work environments. Through projects the students build a portfolio of their work, which demonstrates the breadth of what they have accomplished. There are also opportunities for certification in certain technologies, which validates their level of knowledge. These will become the keys to their success.

Another reason to choose Fanshawe is the 'state of the art' courses offered, for example C++, Java and Internet Technology. "It takes our graduating students who join Microsoft about four months to get up to speed with their programs compared to graduates from Michigan State University who take over a year" stated Garth Santor. 

A new and exciting initiative will be piloted in September, 2001 in the Computer Programmer, Computer Programmer Analyst, and Internet Technologist programs. The students starting these programs must have their own laptop. The College will provide the laptops and the fee for them will be incorporated into the tuition feels. This will increase the opportunity for a high degree of practical application time, which is so crucial in building IT skills. Denise states that because of a partnership with IBM to acquire laptops in large quantities, the students will benefit from lower prices, a greater amount of free services and the advantage of experiencing the newest technology as they come out.

Another opportunity students have for hands on practice is labs are available 7 days a week for self-learning. Also, various programs offer co-op terms where the skills learned in the classroom are applied and built on in the working environment. 

The 'geek image', which is the perception that anyone who takes high level computer courses is a person who converses with computers but has absolutely no interpersonal or social skills, is still prevalent. Soft skills like decision making, good communication, teamwork, etc. are critical to employers when hiring people. To prepare students for the workplace the College's philosophy is to turn out well-rounded individuals who will function effectively in society. Project work offers students opportunities to learn to problem solve in collaborative methods. Working in teams helps to build the communication and conflict resolution skills required by so many employers.

Cedric Ritchie, Chairman, Bank of Nova Scotia stated, "Information technology has finally reached a critical mass and is poised for a period of explosive development in virtually all domains...and (with its) offspring will create tens of millions of new jobs throughout the industrialized world." It doesn't matter how young or old we are - we cannot avoid learning computer skills. The IT programs offered through Fanshawe College present excellent skill development opportunities and the professors are dedicated to provide 'state of the art' learning. The Fanshawe Web site provides information on existing programs and new programs being offered this fall.