Berg's Viewpoint: IT helps keep the community connected

Berg's Viewpoint: IT helps keep the community connected

The smaller IT footprint of Community College of Beaver County and the generous education reimbursement program attracted me to this job when I first applied.

I didn't know at the time that this decision would take me down a path of transformation.

I started working at the college and began engaging with both students and faculty. I quickly realized the richness of this environment, where people of all backgrounds came together to grow, learn and pursue their goals.

Prior to my employment at CCBC, I never set foot on a campus of a community college and knew little about their mission or the role they play in higher education. But, it was never more apparent than the first year following the Covid-19 epidemic.

My recent dissertation was based on the study of the critical decisions made by the leadership of information technology (IT), across Pennsylvania, at the time.

I conducted research at 10 community colleges in Pennsylvania to determine how different leadership styles and decisions made during the first year following the pandemic helped prepare their IT teams for future emergencies.

The study concluded that IT leaders were successful in the pandemic by using an adaptive leadership style and focusing on student success. Pennsylvania's IT departments at community colleges were able, by putting students' needs first, to adapt successfully to the Covid-19 Pandemic. They also provided mission-critical support and technology to their institutions and to students both then and now.

CCBC faculty developed their own pedagogy and IT supported it with technology. Less than 14 percent of students attended only in-person courses, while the rest enrolled in hybrid and online options. These classes were delivered using a teaching method known as Titan Flex. This modality creates an in-person/online experience that is seamless.

Enrollment Services also used the "WaitListMe" app to prepare students returning campus, and to allow social distance while new students wait for important face-to-face time with key personnel. Around 44% of students registered using the app, and 80% said they were satisfied with both the registration process and information.

IT upgraded all departments' technology and offered support for events, meetings, and internal communication in virtual, reimagined methods. This ensured business continuity, and kept us connected to our community.

Community colleges are often overlooked in a world where tuition costs and student debt are skyrocketing. But CCBC, along with PA's other 14 community colleges, continue to harness innovation, creativity and technology to make our institutions and students future-ready, while remaining strongly connected to the things that make learning, teaching, and working possible within the communities we serve.