About Aaron Guy

Aaron Guy serves as the Associate Director for Center for Professional Studies (CPS) managing the Continuing Education Programs. He is responsible for the overall development, continuous enhancement and implementation of the non-credit, certificate based, and professional development courses administered through CPS. Aaron is also a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) through the Project Management Institute (PMI). Aaron’s blog posts range from highlighting new CPS courses to providing insight on the intersection of technology and education.
Aaron

Aaron

When we first started running foundation IT classes in 2011, it was only a ‘2-Cert’ program offering CompTIA A+ and Network+. These first few 2-Cert program courses were well received by our students and provided them with a solid fundamental background to quickly enter the IT workforce. It wasn’t long after we launched our first 2-Cert program, that many of our graduates wanted to explore the world of information technology further, receiving even higher level training. It was at this point we decided to expand our program.

 

CCENT Focus

 

The question we then faced was, “What is the next logical step a student should take after our 2-Cert program?” After completing our CompTIA A+ and Network+ classes, a student still has a plethora of paths she/he may take to dive deeper into information technology. We decided to play to our strengths and pursue the path of networking, specifically networking within a Cisco environment. We’ve been a evolution-of-3-certCisco Academy Support and Instructor Training Center for the Mid-Atlantic region since 2010. We were the first in the region to be recognized by Cisco in this capacity. We provide training and support to Maryland Career and Technical Education (CTE) teachers who teach information technology in their respective schools. Access to this networking resource allowed us to add a Cisco network component into our program, now making it a 3-Cert program. We also invested heavily in procuring new state-of-the-art Cisco routers, switches, racks and a NETLAB+ server. The NETLAB+ server is an appliance with all software tools preloaded for academic institutions to host real lab equipment, virtual machines, and lab content for students. In 2013 we launched our first 3-Cert program with the newly added Cisco networking component. Like our 2-Cert program, it was met with great success.

 

Security+ Focus

 

We now offer 3-Cert programs in two formats where students can “choose their own adventure.” All of our 3-Cert students take the CompTIA A+ and Network+ portions of the program. At the end of Network+ they may choose to dive deeper into networking and pursue the Cisco Certified Entry Networking Technician (CCENT) track, or they may choose to pursue cybersecurity and select the CompTIA Security+ component. This new cybersecurity track gives students the opportunity to learn more about computer security and introduces them to topics like computer system risks and vulnerabilities, encryption and cryptography, data recovery, and forensics. The U.S. Department of Defense Directive 8570 (DoDD 8570) stresses the need for cybersecurity experts in today’s labor force – private and government sectors.

 

Learn More

 

Our 3-Cert program has grown to not only meet the needs of our students, but also the needs of our workforce. We continue to provide high quality training and produce graduates ready for today’s workforce.  Talk to a counselor today or request more information.


Selecting the right IT certification really depends on where you ideally want to end up. Knowing the role or position you would ultimately like to land will greatly determine the path you need to take to get there.

 

The world of information technology is quite vast and a crucial part of all of our daily lives. Information technology is now comprised of an ever-expanding list of subfields and specialty niches within the industry. Some of the primary subfields of information technology focus on databases, networking, security, internet applications, software development and information systems management. It is also important to note that none of these subfields operate in a silo. Anyone studying or working in any one of these areas will face concepts or scenarios affecting all other areas to some degree. Therefore, being competent in any of the aforementioned IT subfields, means you have at least a basic understanding of matters in other areas.

Where Do I Go From Here?

For someone entering into information technology this may be a daunting question, but this is where knowing yourself and your basic technical skill set comes into consideration. Knowing your personality, your strengths and your weaknesses, and the type of work environment you thrive in, will help you determine what type of certification you need.

 

Do you see yourself configuring firewalls and routers, or setting network wide accessibility permissions and controls? Then you may need to pursue a networking related certification like the Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA).

 

Are you comfortable focusing on logical computing procedures and writing code for application development? Then you should pursue a programming language certification like C++ or Java.

 

Would you like to investigate system risks and vulnerabilities, and implement ways to reduce and mitigate such threats and susceptibilities? Pursue a security related certification like CompTIA Security+ or CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner.

 

Selecting an IT certification is a blend between having an idea of where you would like to end up, knowing your technical skill set and playing into it. Our entry level 3-cert IT program takes students through the fundamental information technology concepts in CompTIA A+ and Network+, then allows them to choose their own path to either pursue networking via the Cisco Certified Entry Networking Technician (CCENT) course, or the security path via the CompTIA Security+.

 

Towson University Continuing Education and Professional Studies Can Help

 

Register For our next 3-Cert: CompTIA A+, Network + and Security+ course on June 29

 

Register For our next 3-Cert: CompTIA A+, Network + and CCENT course on June 29


As continuing education at Towson University continues to evolve to serve Maryland and the region better, a new website has been created. Some of the goals of the new site include:

  • To promote a robust catalog that includes over 20 programs aligned with the workforce development needs of the area and in the fields of business, information technology and health/medical
  • To reach a wider audience that has a desire to grow professionally.
  • To provide updates on course offerings, industry news, certification requirements, tips for preparing for exams and ways to leverage professional experience, all on our Continuing Education blog.
  • To highlight the talented group of professional experts that developed the courses from the ground up.

In addition to our new web presence, the physical presence has shifted. In the training center, there is over 1,200 square feet of dedicated classroom space that includes state of the art computer labs, outfitted with ample equipment for our IT students to have hands on experience with computer building and repair, cyber-security and forensics, and system networking utilizing Cisco routers and servers.

 

Visit the new website to view a complete listing of courses, register for courses, sign up for our newsletter, and meet our instructors.

website screen shot

 

 


Aaron

Aaron

As of Thursday, February 26th 2015, let the scoreboard show one point for Net Neutrality and zero points for Internet Services Providers (ISPs). Last year I discussed the looming battle that was taking place between ISPs and millions of everyday internet content consumers, like you and I. An end to this battle was scheduled on Thursday, February 26th 2015, where like judges in a long 12 round boxing match without a clear knockout, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) had to decide on the fate of Net Neutrality. In a 3-2 split decision, the FCC ruled in favor of reclassifying broadband Internet (both wired and wireless) under Title II of the Communications Act.

 

 

 

How Does Reclassification Maintain Net Neutrality?

Prior to this ruling there were no real boundaries for ISPs when it came to how they can treat data traversing their networks based on the data content source. Meaning, an ISP if it so chooses, was able to slow down or throttle data from Netflix being delivered to an end user’s Roku player. Furthermore, not unlike the manner of a mafia pizzo, an ISP can strongly “encourage” content providers like a Netflix, that take up a lot of bandwidth, to pay a fee in order to guarantee that their movie streaming content makes it to the end user quickly and efficiently, without any lag or buffering. The FCC ruling for reclassification now allows for the government to look at the Internet as an essential utility, in a similar manner as it does for electricity and water.

 

ISPs like Comcast, Verizon and AT&T see this reclassification as a loss because under these new rules they will be forced to make their operations more transparent to not only the government, but also to the general public. They will now have to operate in an environment of strict regulation and can no longer even attempt to discriminate data traversing their networks based on the source. These new rules ensure that large content providers like Netflix and Hulu will not have to pony-up extra dollars to get their content to the end users, but more importantly, it ensures that new and smaller companies will not have to fear for their content being stuck in an Internet slow lane because they cannot afford to pay a ‘shakedown’ premium. Entrepreneurs and smaller content providers become the real winners in this reclassification. This new ruling maintains a level playing field where all data packets are treated equally. The internet does not need a ‘Data Caste System.’

 

NetNeutrality

Image credit: NPR Blog

 

The Fight Is Not Over

This battle victory for Net Neutrality does not mean the ‘war’ is over. Without a doubt ISPs, wireless providers, and possibly some congressional opponents will take these rulings to court. These opponents will argue that government should not have a hand in the operations of the Internet. It will be argued that the Internet worked just fine without government intervention and as such should remain this way. They will argue that the reclassification is placing the Internet into the antiquated Title II of the Communications Act, and as such will stifle business and innovation. And to some small degree they are right. However, in my opinion, the alternative path is much worse. The path where corporations are unregulated and free to make the rules, regardless of how that affects overall user experience and entrepreneurship. This is certainly not over and could potentially be a very long legal battle, but for now this is a victory worth celebrating. As FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler stated moments before the deciding vote, “The Internet is simply too important to allow broadband providers to be the ones making the rules.”


Aaron

Aaron

Towson University’s Center for Professional Studies (CPS) is committed to developing quality courses that meet the current and future demands of our workforce. We have adopted a blended style of curriculum development that pairs our renowned faculty with leaders from industry to develop state-of –the-art professional programs. In 2012 we launched our flagship continuing education program, the Project Management Professional (PMP)® preparation course, which boasts our highest enrollment numbers over the last two fiscal years. We have continued to improve the course to fully align with the Project Management Institute, A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge, (PMBOK® Guide) – Fifth Edition, Project Management Institute, Inc., 2013. In February 2014, we also delivered the first in-class session of this program, delivered by the developers of the online version of the course.

The success of our PMP® has been recognized by the Project Management Institute (PMI) and we have recently been awarded the prestigious designation as a Registered Educational Provider (R.E.P.).

PMI_REP_Certificate

So what is a PMI R.E.P.?
As stated on PMI’s website, “PMI R.E.P.s are organizations that we have approved to offer training in project management and issue professional development units (PDUs) to meet the continuing education requirements needed by PMI credential holders.[1] Towson University’s Center for Professional Studies took on the arduous challenge of carefully refining all the course content and materials so that it met all of PMI’s strict standards for R.E.P. status. In September 2014 our online and in-class Project Management Professional (PMP)® preparation courses were granted this respected status.

infographic_pmp

How does an R.E.P. impact a PMP program?
Prior to becoming a R.E.P. our program was primarily geared towards learners preparing to take the PMP® exam. However, we can now offer our program to current PMP® credential holders so that they may earn professional development units (PDUs) to keep and maintain their certification. All PMP® credential holders must earn 60 PDUs every three years in order to renew their certificate for another three year term. PMP® credential holders may now take our program and earn 23 PDUs towards the 60 needed for their certificate renewal.

We also have the opportunity to segment our online program into project management topics areas, and turn each topic area into a small course and offer PDUs for each segment. For example, we can take the Project Risk Management section of our program and segment it into its own course, offering credential holders 5 PDUs for this small course. This opens up a new professional market and gives us the opportunity to further expand upon the reach and credibility of our PMP® program.

REP_Handout

[1] http://www.pmi.org/Professional-Development/REP-What-is-a-Registered-Education-Provider.aspx


Aaron

Aaron

Over the past few years an intense battle has been taking place over the way content is delivered to consumers, via the internet. This is the battle of Net Neutrality. So what is Net Neutrality? Net Neutrality is the idea that all traffic traversing the Internet is treated the same. No one source or type of content is given any special privilege to reach its consumer over any other content source or type. The notion is that the Internet is a free and open space, giving users (both developers and end consumers) equal access to any website or application. Seems logical right? So who is posing a threat to this simple, yet genius notion? Internet Services Providers (ISPs). Within the realm of Net Neutrality ISPs are not allowed to discriminate between the sources of Internet traffic you consume, but if things go their way this will soon change.

 

ISPs: Our Content Deciders
ISPs want to set up a “pay for play” system where content developers would pay ISPs a premium to get their content to end users first, or in a timely fashion. ISPs would in essence create a model where content developers and providers who can afford it, would reach the end user first; whereas content developers who can’t afford (or don’t want) to pay this premium would no longer be easily accessible to their audience. This would further marginalize “smaller” content developers by not allowing them to reach audiences simply because they can’t afford to, and not because of the quality of their content. In addition, this model will  change the way we pay for the Internet. Currently we pay our ISPs some flat rate that is typically only limited by bandwidth capacity. In the new proposed model, your Internet bill could begin to look a lot like a cable bill, where you pay for different “Internet tiers” of content. So you want to be able to access YouTube? That’ll cost an extra $10/month. How about NetFlix or Hulu? That’ll cost you an extra $20. Our ISPs should just be the delivery service of our Internet content, but this makes them the deciders of our content.

Image source: Wired.com

Image source: Wired.com

Role of the Government
Another question you may be asking is why would the government (FCC) strip away Net Neutrality? Well, in 2010 the FCC actually established “Open Internet Rules” which supported Net Neutrality. In essence these rules were: 1) ISPs need to be transparent about how they manage network congestion; 2) they can’t block traffic on wired networks, no matter what the source; and 3) they can’t put competing services into an “Internet ‘slow lane” to benefit their own offerings. So what happened? Verizon, one of the largest ISPs, challenged these FCC rules and in January 2014 a federal court ruled in favor of Verizon (and ISPs) primarily dismantling the last two rules. Furthermore, it doesn’t bode well that the former chairman of the FCC, Michael Powell is now the cable industry head lobbyist, and the current head of the FCC, Tom Wheeler, is a former cable industry lobbyist.

 

The Impact on Online Education
This now brings us to the big question, how exactly could this affect online education? If Net Neutrality is dismantled, and a “pay for play” system is introduced, then institutions offering online education will have to pay ISPs a premium for their courses to reach students. Imagine an Internet where the multimedia content of an online MBA program from the University of Phoenix is allowed to perform better than similar multimedia content from an online MBA program through the University of Baltimore. Or a scenario where the course videos recorded in our Digital Media Classrooms here at Towson University no longer stream well for our students, only because UMBC has paid ISPs a premium for educational content bandwidth on their networks. Furthermore, as many schools move more of their educational content into cloud based services, and ISPs in turn require these cloud storage companies to pony up more money for efficient content delivery, then the additional cost will ultimately be passed along to the customers, e.g., the students. Given the exorbitant and still rising cost of college tuition, I can’t imagine any student being pleased about having a new line item in their tuition bill that reads “Online educational content storage and delivery fee: $XXX”

 

Image source: Dear FCC

Image source: Dear FCC

The concept of Net Neutrality and its grave importance spans across all industries, and disassembling Net Neutrality will ultimately suffocate innovation. The FCC needs to hear from all of us regarding the importance of keeping the Internet a neutral space for the sake of online education, and all content developers. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has created a simple form for anyone to use to tell the FCC why the Internet needs to remain open: https://www.dearfcc.org/


Aaron

Aaron

Back in March the Center for Professional Studies launched its CompTIA A+/Network + certification program drawing upon industry talent and expertise to develop a fully online foundation training program for entry level IT professionals. Continuing along with our goal to build a catalog of continuing education programs, from the ground up, while utilizing Towson University faculty talent and expertise, we have developed and launched our newest online program Professional in Human Resources (PHR).

 

About the PHR Certification
The PHR certification is a globally recognized credential awarded through the Human Resource Certification Institute (HR Certification Institute) and signifies that those who’ve passed the exam thoroughly understand the PHR Body of Knowledge, which outlines the responsibilities of and knowledge needed by today’s HR professional. The PHR certification is not industry specific and can be applied to the framework of any company’s human resources department. Furthermore, certified PHR employees earn about $15,000 more than their non-certified counterparts [1] and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 55 percent increase in number of HR jobs in the next decade. In fact, certified PHR employees also have a higher chance of receiving a promotion than their non-certified counterparts.

phr

Image credit: PayScale Human Capital

Course Development
The workforce appeal of the PHR certification made it a decision for us to pursue the development of this new program. However, our first hurdle was to find the right instructor to build the content. Dr. Tobin Porterfield, who developed our flagship Project Management Professional online program, suggested that we reach out to Dr. Alan Clardy, who is the Director of Human Resource Development (HRD) Graduate Program here at Towson University. Not only does Dr. Clardy head the HRD graduate program, but has years of experience in the field as well as an expansive array of book and paper publications and presentations. Leading up to our first meeting with Dr. Clardy we were not sure what to expect and if he would be open to working with us on developing this content, however after we laid out our plan and intent, he was more than willing to jump right in and begin building the content. Dr. Clardy even enlisted the help of two of his past students in the Human Resource Management graduate program to review and double check his content. The team dynamic helped ensure that the content is in alignment with the PHR Body of Knowledge, while Dr. Clardy dove deep into churning out the course content. This resulted in a deep and robust course that fully prepares students to successfully sit for the PHR certification exam. Dr. Clardy also wrote an entire module on ‘taking the PHR Certification Exam,’ that details the overall nature of the exam, what to expect, how to gather the relevant information and apply through the HR Certification Institute, and even how to schedule your exam through the Prometric testing center.

 

We are all very pleased with the end result of our PHR program and even more excited about enrolling students into this new course. Our catalog of Towson University developed Continuing Education programs is growing and we hope to keep up with this pace and continue to provide high quality course offerings.

 



Aaron

Aaron

Our CCNA Course
Earlier this spring Towson University Center for Professional Studies (CPS) launched the self-paced online CompTIA A+/Network+ program, drawing upon the talent of our in-class instructor, Nick Markakis. Almost immediately after launching our online CompTIA A+/Network+ program we began the process of developing an online Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) program, as well as an in-class CCNA program to append to our existing in-class CompTIA A+/Network+ program. Our students showed great interest in this ‘3-cert’ bundle and thus we felt it necessary to provide this program. Furthermore, diving into Cisco related content felt like a natural next step for us, especially since we were recognized by Cisco as the region’s first Academy Support Center and Instructor Training Center, spearheaded by our own Nancy Null.

As we began tapping into our instructor talent pool and researching the best methods to properly develop and deliver a CCNA course, we quickly realized that we would need to provide an environment where our students can be exposed to realistic networking situations and scenarios for them to gain true networking experience. This is where NETLAB+ came in.

 

What is NETLAB+?
In very basic terms “NETLAB+ is a server appliance with all the software tools preloaded for academic institutions to host real lab equipment, virtual machines and lab content for trainees to complete labs.” So what does this mean? This means that with a NETLAB+ environment we can host real IT equipment, virtual machines, lab content and assignments, while our students can have access to all this content via a simple web interface, which gives them the ability to schedule and complete lab exercises related to our CCNA course. This  gives our students a significant competitive advantage. Not only will our students be exposed to real networking environments and scenarios that appear in the official CCNA exam, but they will also gain the type of real-world experience necessary in the workforce.

netlab_concept

After procuring our NETLAB+ server appliance and all the other needed equipment our next step was to actually put it all together. Building the NETLAB+ environment is a very challenging and intricate process. To accomplish the task we reached out to one of our CCNA certified instructors, Jesse Varsalone, who has built these types of environment for other institutions. We also reached out our sibling department, Office of IT Services, to provide us with hosting space, as well as extra hands for building this environment. We were extremely lucky to have the in-house talent of Matt Koontz and Brian Bechtel, who played a significant role in helping Jesse create this complex networking lab environment. Today, thanks to all parties involved our NETLAB+ environment is up and running and is being utilized in our first in-class CCNA cohort. We also plan to incorporate our NETLAB+ capabilities into our online CCNA course, which is currently being developed and expected to launch this Fall.

 

What’s next for NETLAB+?
Although, we acquired NETLAB+ primarily for its Cisco content, assignments and networking environments, this server appliance has much more capabilities in more topic areas that we plan to utilize in future courses. We are currently in the early stages of figuring out how we can incorporate NETLAB+ into the academic side of the university, specifically within the Master’s in Applied IT program. Such a partnership will allow our enrolled degree seeking students to also have access to these real-world labs and scenarios, which will only bolster their academic undertakings. We are excited to see what can come of this new tool at our disposal and how we can use it to transform learning. Stay tuned to find out where we take this NETLAB+ environment next.


Aaron

Aaron

Back in January we filled you in on our exciting new project with Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE), where we were tasked to develop webinars for Maryland teachers that follow up on the content they were exposed to during the summer 2012 Educator Effectiveness Academy (EEA). We successfully launched the first four of these professional development webinars in January to a great response from MSDE staff and teachers statewide.

 

At the end of April we launched our second set of webinars to complete the professional develop releases for the current school year. In the upcoming weeks, we will be partnering with some of the Master teachers to provide live Virtual Office hours facilitated through WebEx. This will allow other teachers who’ve viewed the webinars to ask questions and engage with these Master teachers regarding the webinar content.

 

These webinars have already proven to be an excellent resource not only for the teachers who were able to attend the summer 2012 EEA, but also for teachers who were not able to attend and were interested in acquiring more information on Maryland Common Core State Curriculum Standards.

 

What’s next?
Because of the wide positive feedback from teachers across the state, MSDE has decided to expand our scope of work.  This year we will not just record a few selected EEA breakout sessions, but rather capture 12 full days of EEA content, spanning 5 different counties and composing of over 100 hours of content. This new scope will allow MSDE to segment the broad spectrum of summer 2013 EEA content into several programs targeted towards teachers and principals in all content areas, as well as in all grade levels. Towson University’s Center for Professional Studies will again utilize the Towson University Blackboard system to make all these programs available to teachers across the state.

Image credit: Washington Post

Image credit: Washington Post


Aaron

Aaron

Last November Towson University Center for Professional Studies (CPS) launched their Online Project Management course which prepares students to take the Project Management Professional (PMP) and Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) exams administered through the Project Management Institute (PMI). This Online Project Management course was our inaugural online course fully developed in house and has proven to be a great success since its launch with almost 30 active students thus far.

 

A sample question in the Online Project Management course interface

A practice question in the Online Project Management course interface

 

During our research to uncover the largest in-demand certifications we discovered that there was a great demand for certified IT professionals, especially in the foundation level of IT topic areas, as well as IT networking. This made it clear to us that our next online Towson University developed course needed to be a joint CompTIA A+ and Network+ program. In fact, a recent salary survey done by Certification Magazine listed CompTIA A+ title holders with an average annual salary of about $65,000, and CompTIA Network+ title holders with an average annual salary of about $67,000.

 

About CompTIA A+/Network +
comptia-logo.gifThe Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) is a non-profit group that acts as a voice and advocate for the global IT industry and also serves as the certifying body for the A+ and Network+ exams. The CompTIA A+ certification is the foundation level certification that teaches students about personal computing hardware and prepares students to be competent as a computer technician. The CompTIA Network+ certification prepares students to become network technician, which encompasses understanding of network hardware, installation, and troubleshooting. Our CompTIA A+/Network+ program combines all the topic areas and content of these two separate certifications into one cohesive online program that fully prepares the students to successfully take each of these certification exams.

 

One of the great benefits of both these CompTIA certifications is that they are vendor-neutral. This means that the skills learned through this program is not tied to any specific IT brand or company, but are completely transferable among countless different hardware components, networks and systems. This makes these CompTIA certifications extremely desirable among IT employers as it is known that a solid vendor-neutral technology foundation will always help IT professionals in today’s multi-vendor world. Furthermore, major IT companies such as Microsoft, Novell, and Cisco, to name a few, have all recognized CompTIA A+ and Network+ as part of their certification tracks.

 

Course Development
Towson University Center for Professional Studies has been delivering CompTIA A+/Network+ in-class programs since 2011 with great success, so when it came time to develop our online asynchronous CompTIA A+ and Network+ program we decided to utilize our in-class teacher, Nick Markakis, as the primary developer of our online course. Nick, who is Towson University graduate with a B.Sc. in Computer Science, is also CompTIA A+/Network+ certified, has over 6 years of CompTIA A+/Network+ teaching experience and works at the Maryland Department of Transportation as a Computer Network Specialist II Supervisor. He was able to bring all his knowledge and expertise into the development process to build us a robust online asynchronous CompTIA A+/Network+ program. Coupling Nick’s technical background and proficiency into our online Learning Management System, resulted in rigorous, yet user friendly and collaborative online course that incorporates audio narrations, lesson assessments and interactive graphical displays that is sure to engage our students and propel them through the program. Additionally, enrollment into our CompTIA A+/Network+ program gives each student two vouchers to take the two parts of the CompTIA A+ exam at any authorized Pearson VUE testing center. Our CompTIA A+/Network+ program is set to launch April 22nd and we’re confident that it will also be a huge success.

 

Stay tuned for our online Professional Human Resources (PHR) and Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) programs launching later this year.