“NCC is ranked fourth in the nation among large community colleges in the use of technology to serve students.” That is a statement taken from Northampton Community College’s own website, My NCC.
While it may sound like creative boasting, public relations, or propaganda, there is merit to it.
According to a spring 2014 article that ran in the Pocono Record, The Center for Digital Education ranked NCC fourth in the nation “in the use of technology to serve students, faculty and administrators.”
Dracie Clause, the full-time Media Lab Manager, agrees. “That is just really exciting and speaks volumes on how committed we are to really keeping up with technology.”
The article quoted NCC Dean and Chief Information Officer Noble Burak, who clarified the criteria of the ranking based on seven categories for use of available technology: “in teaching, in assessing institutional effectiveness, in decision-making, in professional development, in communication, in improving campus security and in supporting campus operations.”
“We keep up,” Robert Fleming, second-year, Computer Maintenance major, said. Fleming is in a position to know: He also works for NCC as an IT specialist. “We have cycles where we deploy new technology to the classrooms and work stations across campus. Computers are updated in rotation. When there are demands in the job market, funds are allocated to create programs with the latest technology in order to meet those demands much like the new virtual welding equipment in Hartzell Hall for students going into that field to practice with.”
Discussing how funds are allocated for the advancement in technology, Deb Burak, Vice President of Institutional Advancement said, “Annually, there is a capital and an operating budget process that the college follows, and that’s how we work through the priorities each year.”
Though the technology is expensive, the funds are seen as an investment over spending. If it helps an NCC graduate to find a full-time job, then the investment is deemed worth it, with the hope word-of-mouth will spread that NCC is a leader among schools in the country.
The survey, conducted by e.Republic’s Center for Digital Education, is annual. The 2014 results are only tempered by 2015, the CDE’s 10th annual survey, in which Northampton dropped to 8th for “large community colleges” nationwide, meaning 10,000 students or more. In Pennsylvania, according to the latest survey, NCC placed 3rd, with Montgomery County Community College (2nd overall) and Bucks County Community College (4th overall) ahead in the state. However, renovations and improvements to curriculum at NCC’s Hartzell Technology Hall (see article elsewhere in The Commuter) may change that. Results for the 2015-16 Digital Community Colleges Survey are expected to be released in April 2016.