Rock Valley College is committed to a multi-prong, generational approach to promoting IT in our community. Through the implementation of the Girls Who Code club for middle and high school girls, the Digital Technology Pathway for high school students, and the IT ICAPS program for adult learners, Rock Valley College is opening up educational opportunities in the field of IT for people of all ages.
Rock Valley College is the first Community College in the United States to be selected as an approved Girls Who Code training location. Girls Who Code is a national non-profit organization working to close the gender gap in technology. Through this free after-school program, girls in 6-12th grades are being educated, equipped and inspired with the computing skills they’ll need to pursue 21st century opportunities. In order to weave education and industry, the group is facilitated by Rock Valley’s Professor Chuck Konkol and IT Programmer Melissa Gear as well as Woodward Governor’s Jennifer Kunkel. They meet weekly for 2 hours with 20 girls who design and code in groups. Girls build character and coding skills as they learn, plan, build and celebrate together to create a self-directed project to benefit their community, which has included websites and mobile apps to connect area youth with volunteer opportunities available in area non-profits, businesses and churches.
In January of 2018, Rock Valley College received grant funding from the Community Foundation of Northern Illinois to implement pathways in collaboration with our regional high schools. This fall, Belvidere District 100 launched a digital technology pathway, resulting in 41 students being eligible to receive dual credit for PCT 262 Introduction to Network Design and Coding. Next fall students in this pathway will then have the opportunity to enroll in both PCT 110 Networking Essentials and PCT 270 Introduction to Unix/Linux also being offered as dual credit at their high schools. It has been exciting to see the growth of student interest in IT careers as a result of this pathway.
The IT ICAPS program is a short term program that helps prepare Adult Education students for employment in the IT industry. The program provides Adult Education students an opportunity to complete their GED or continue taking ESL classes while taking college courses towards a Network Technician Certificate through Rock Valley College. This program offered two college courses in the Spring semester and two in the fall semester. Completing these four courses qualifies the students to sit for the A+ Certification exam as well as the Network + Certification exam. The ICAPS students also attend an academic support class where they continue working on their GED and/or ESL work and obtain extra assistance with the college coursework.
Rock Valley College has removed barriers to the field of IT by ensuring the availability of multiple entrance points for the community. This multi-prong, generational approach promises to open the field to people of all ages and genders.