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The Think Tank: Learn and Apply Proven Program Tools, Resources, and Practices

Track Room Location: Heritage Hall, room 225


Do you need to increase your enrollments, strengthen your curriculum, improve your practices, improve your relationship with local business and industry leaders, communicate more effectively with colleagues, and offer more innovative services to your students? And do you need to do all of this with little to no budget money, a huge work load, and a small support staff? You’ve come to the right place! Find the answers you and your students need as the Think Tank helps you develop skills and strategies to take your program to the next level.

Learn more about yourself, meet your peers, and hear best practices. Work in groups, use role-playing and workbook activities, master new strategies. Discover essential resources and tools. This material is not just for IT instructors and administrators. These processes can work across all technical disciplines and beyond.



Lead Coaches


Ann Beheler

Principal Investigator, National Convergence Technology Center
Executive Director of Emerging Technology Grants, Collin College

Ann Beheler has been in the Information Technology industry for over 30 years, and she is now responsible for Emerging Technology grants at Collin College. In that capacity she leads the National Information, Security, and Geospatial Technologies Consortium, an almost $20 million DOL TAACCCT grant and the National Convergence Technology Center, a $4.4 million National Science Foundation grant.

Ann has corporate experience, has led her own consulting firm, has created and taught in one of the first networking degree programs in Texas, and has previously managed IT-related divisions and grants ranging $1-$20 million in community colleges in Texas and California. Prior to her current position, she was Vice President of Academic Affairs for Porterville College, responsible for all instruction at the college, and prior that she was a Dean at both Orange Coast College in California and at Collin College.

Among other things, Ann is known for effectively bringing together business and industry using a streamlined process to identify with them the knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) they predict will be needed by “right-skilled” job candidates in the future. She then works with faculty to align curriculum such that those who complete certificates and degrees in IT have the knowledge, skills, and abilities that will make them readily employable in high-paying IT positions. Ann holds a PhD in Community College Leadership from Walden University, a MS in Computer Science from Florida Institute of Technology, and a BS in Math from Oklahoma State University.


Helen Sullivan

Director, National Convergence Technology Center

Helen Sullivan has been Director of the Convergence Technology Center, the ATE Regional Center funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation, for the past five years at Collin College in Frisco, TX. She was the director on two prior NSF-funded project grants: The North Texas Regional Technology Consortium, and Advancing Careers in Technology and Science.

Helen holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in mathematics with a concentration in technical writing from the University of Texas at Austin. She has done graduate work in journalism at the University of North Texas and has completed a certificate series in Project Management at Collin. She has taken mediation training fulfilling the statutory requirement for mediator certification in the state of Texas. She is currently a student in the MLS graduate program at Southern Methodist University, with a concentration on communication, media and technology..

She has over 25 years project and program management experience, including as Director of Documentation and Training at Nortel, where her organization provided support for 64 network-based telecom projects. Her previous career in journalism netted awards from the Associated Press, Texas Press Women, Northeast Texas Press Association and four School Bell Awards from the Texas State Teachers Association. She is a conference speaker and facilitator.

Three Objectives

1 Understand how to maximize your relationship with an active, engaged business and leadership group
2 Learn new best practices and strategies for improving your program’s recruitment and retention
3 Develop a workbook of new strategies, ideas, and processes to implement at your home college


During this program, you will learn how to…

Monday – Leverage business expertise to benefit your students. Rather than relying on traditional “back-seat” advisory panels that follow faculty’s lead, put your business leaders in the front seat and get them actively involved. They know best what students need to learn.

  • Maximize relationships and meetings with local business and industry leaders to make them an asset to your program and your students
  • Focus discussions with your local business and industry leaders to forecast industry trends, identify job skills, steer curriculum, and ensure your students are well-prepared for the workforce

Tuesday – Strengthen your student recruitment and retention with best practices and new ideas. Get more students in the classrooms, make them want to stay there.

  • Attract more students to your program and boost enrollment
  • Keep students in your program and increase your completion numbers
  • Use summer camps to raise awareness of your program in your region and create a pipeline of middle-school and high-school students
  • Give your students an essential edge in competitive job interviews by teaching them how to create memorable student portfolios
  • Offer students with full-time jobs an alternative internship model to get useful, real-world group experience they won’t otherwise get

Wednesday – Challenge yourself to work smarter and more productively. Students aren’t the only ones who need useful communication strategies; faculty and administrators also need to make the most of their limited time in the classroom and office meetings.

  • Assess different personality and communication styles to improve teamwork and communication with students and colleagues alike
  • Get a “yes” from your business people, administrators, and colleagues to get students the resources they need
  • Find new ways to help your students with free, open-source resources funded by federal grants

Thursday – Appeal to the unique needs of today’s students with innovation. Students have jobs, raise families, and carry heavy course loads. Acknowledge these realities, cater to your customer, and adjust your program accordingly.

  • Explore new program formats that provide modular, “stackable” courses and certificates to give students the flexibility they need and your school the completion numbers it needs
  • Use social media to communicate with students, energize learning, and market your program
  • FIELD TRIP to local business

Friday – Discuss the value of a robust educational community. You and your students are not alone. There are many programs and faculty out there who want to help you succeed - and who likewise need your assistance to help them succeed.

  • Sample a set of virtual labs (an online resource shared among several schools) that give students 24/7 access to tests and exercises that otherwise would have to happen in a brick-and-mortar campus lab during business hours
  • Learn how “community of practice” networks (like the Convergence College Network) benefit students by allowing faculty and programs to share resources and collective wisdom

Note: Due to the number of speakers and their busy schedules, some agenda items may be shifted and rearranged within the week's schedule.

Instructor Links

Please note that content is subject to change or modification based on the unique needs of the track participants in attendance.

the_think_tank.txt · Last modified: 2018/11/27 13:37 by admin