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WASTC Winter ICT Educators Conference



Representatives from Ascend Education attended and presented at the WASTC Winter ICT Educators Conference last week. Hundreds of college and university instructors, as well as IT industry experts, attended the conference. The conference was entirely virtual, with breakout sessions focused on yesterday’s foundations, today’s workforce, and tomorrow’s skill.

Robert McMillen, Ascend Education’s head of course development, presented on filling the Microsoft Academic Learning gap.

Robert began his presentation by discussing the necessity of tomorrow’s students learning the ins and outs of Windows software. He talked about the amount of courses and steps it takes a student to get to a professional level of understanding. Our goal in the industry should be to have trained professionals for the future coming out of today’s academic environments. 

The presentation highlighted that Microsoft Academic materials tried to fulfill the need for better prepared students entering the workforce, but in 2021 Microsoft’s courses were retired. At that point, software subscriptions became Microsoft’s focus, and a lot of educators don’t particularly prefer those. 

In light of this, Robert emphasized that instructors in this situation with no resources, could either give up, develop their own courses in-house, or turn to cloud-based lab courses rather than troubleshooting on-campus computers. 

Robert suggested going with the third option: using Ascend Education Courses.

Ascend’s courses are reviewed by Microsoft Professionals, like Robert, to create the best and most updated content. Ascend’s team also aims to avoid headaches of poor tech support.

Each Ascend Education course was covered in depth during the presentation. Robert demonstrated the comprehensive structure that Ascend offers with written, video, and virtual lab content, as well as built-in assessments. He included a full walkthrough of a virtual lab within a course, showing useful functions like notes, disability accessibility, etc. 

During the presentation, there were great comments from current instructors: “I have been teaching Windows server for over six years, [I] love this product from Ascend,” said Gus Pina, a current Ascend Education user. “It has been a life changer for my students and myself! I am glad to be using Ascend products in my classes these last 3 years.” 

Robert closed the presentation stating that Ascend listens to instructors for future course development ideas. Ascend is constantly developing new courses to further fulfill instructors’ needs. Robert announced that Ascend will offer certifications of their own down the road for courses that don’t have certifications available. 

Ascend was grateful to participate in the ICT Conference on Friday and looks to continue its participation in the future. For more about this conference and future conferences, visit the WASTC website.

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