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Summer IT Workshops Draw Record Registration

May 26, 2020

Working from home in pajamasIn a few short weeks, the CCC Information Security Center and CCC Accessibility Center will host the 2020 Summer IT Workshops, which will, for the first time, be held entirely online. In light of statewide distancing requirements to minimize the spread of COVID-19, organizers decided early on to move the June 15-16 workshops to a virtual format rather than cancel.

So far, it’s looking like the right move. Registration to date is 316 and climbing - well above the typical registration of 100 to 200 people - likely due to people mostly working from home right now, as well as flexibility afforded by an online event.

That’s good news for the Information Security and Accessibility project teams, which have the opportunity to share information and best practices to a wider audience.

“Transitioning to an online event allows for the Information Security Center and Accessibility Center to connect with California Community Colleges faculty and staff with effective strategies and practices to meet student needs and support online and remote teaching solutions,” said Sean Keegan, Director of the CCC Accessibility Center.

“One advantage we can offer participants with an online event is that we can include presenters and topics that might not have been possible for a face-to-face workshop. For the accessibility sessions, this allows us to include subject matter experts from outside of California providing sessions on social media accessibility and accessibility tools for teaching online.”

Aamir Khan, Chief Security Officer with the CCC Information Security Center, agrees that the transition to an online event is what is called for in these times. “Cyberattacks have been on the rise during the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly phishing scams resulting in ransomware. Education institutions are generally top targets for hackers utilizing these attacks. With record-high registration for virtual events and meetings, it is essential to keep California Community Colleges faculty and staff up to date on the best information security practices,” he said.

“The transition to an online webinar provides an opportunity to reach out to more schools, which in turn helps improve the overall security posture of campuses with the information we share. Another advantage we have with an online event is that live demonstrations of security software become much easier to present, share, and follow along.”

Another change for the “summer” workshops is an adjustment to the timing of the event - to spring. Usually held in late July, the summer workshops were moved to mid-June to see if the new timing will allow for more broad participation by CCC personnel.

This workshop event will mark the fifth year of a partnership between the Information Security Center and Accessibility Center to present two full days of professional development focused on information technology. Originally presented as a single-day event by the Information Security Center each January and July, the workshops expanded in scope following the 2016 launch of the Accessibility Center. The intent was to introduce IT personnel to accessibility issues related to campus technologies.

Having an added focus on IT accessibility significantly increased visibility and attendance of the event, which now reaches personnel in student services, instruction, and public information, in addition to those in traditional IT roles.

Workshop content is geared toward community college or district staff involved in the administration, support, or procurement of IT, alternate media, or assistive technologies.