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Technological reflections

The end of the school year is here with all the usual activities; registration for summer and fall, honor society inductions, academic awards, and the annual college employee recognition event to name a few. It's also a time to reflect on the accomplishments of the past year and immediately start planning for the next.

During the year, students in the computer program spent more time on some subjects and did new things as well. For instance, they spent more time configuring routers by delving deeper into typical administrative chores. Wireless technology is growing fast. In response, students spent a more time in that area by deploying a business-class Cisco access point and configuring clients for access.

In the past, we studied Voice over IP technology but didn't have a hands-on piece. That changed with the donation from Twin State last December of three Mitel VoIP phones. The phones allowed students the opportunity to perform a typical phone configuration and setup a working IP PBX. We only scratched the surface of VoIP technology but students progressed to the point where the phones functioned and students placed calls to each other within the classroom.

The computer advisory committee, an outside group that helps us stay current with the computer industry, encouraged adding a virtual computing piece to the curriculum. As a result, students worked through a project of learning about and then installing the VMware ESXi Hypervisor, a virtual machine (computer) host. Once the Hypervisor was in place they downloaded a virtual appliance and then created a custom virtual machine by installing and configuring an operating system.

Over the summer, I plan to refine the newer hands-on lab activities and extend them where possible. It's a constant chore keeping up, but absolutely necessary to keep the computer programs up to date.

Ron Poland is a professor in the Computer Information Systems AAS program at Clinton Community College. Poland is certified in company repair and networking by the Computer Technology Industry Association (CompTIA). He is also a Cisco certified network assistant. Questions may be sent to him via e-mail at ron@ronpoland.com.

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