The Top Community Colleges in Washington DC Leading in Technology
There are a lot of ways to evaluate the top community colleges in Washington, D.C. to find the right fit. Academic programs, location, scholarship opportunities, and culture can all play a role in the selection process. However, technology is an essential part of the college experience you probably never considered.
An investment in technology indicates a growing school with a solid financial footing. Every career in the modern workforce involves using technology in some fasjion, so college students need technical training to become well-rounded career candidates. Community college technology can enhance the student experience by providing a platform for communicating with professors, students, and online learning.
“Finding the right college is really important, but more important is making sure that college has a program and an environment that motivates you,” says Isa Adney, author of “Community College Success.” In today’s tech-driven world, higher education communication tools are a critical part of the environment and college experience. To help you evaluate the best community colleges in Washington D.C., we’ve created a tech-driven guide to understanding your options.
The 8 Most Tech-Advanced Community Colleges in Washington, D.C.
Every community college in Washington, D.C. has technology in some capacity. GovTech estimates that in 2018, higher education spending on tech will reach $12.8 billion nationwide. However, some organizations go above and beyond in their commitment to fielding the most advanced and innovative communications tools and infrastructure.
What defines a tech-advanced, connected campus? There are a few criteria which can shape the student experience:
Criteria #1. A Fiber Network
College students use a lot of bandwidth for downloading homework assignments, running online applications, and streaming music. Not only is fiber-optic internet much faster than traditional high-speed internet, but it’s also much more reliable. Fiber offers equal upload and download speeds for fast file transfers and superior information security protection.
Criteria #2. Tech Personnel
Technology is transforming higher education and allowing colleges nationwide to provide higher-quality, accessible education at lower costs. As the industry faces digital transformation, the best community colleges in Washington, D.C. and nationwide have a fully-staffed team of experts whose primary role is to engage with technology. Personnel dedicated to maintaining communications tools nearly always signal better tech adoption across the campus and well-trained instructors and staff.
Criteria #3. Commitment
The best Washington, D.C. community colleges know that technology is an advantage for students, and their commitment is clear regarding the resources and effort they've dedicated to adopting and integrating new technologies. The leading colleges may have campus-wide communication systems, student apps, and use technology to enhance classroom learning.
To learn more about how some of the leading higher education systems are using technology for disaster planning, read The 9 Critical Roles Unified Communications Systems Plays in School Crisis Situations.
The University of the District of Columbia Community College (UDC-CC) is a Washington, D.C. open-enrollment, public junior college with a Spring 2018 enrollment of 1,875 students. UDC-CC currently offers WiFi internet connectivity to students, and an Office of Information Services dedicated to maintaining academic technology resources and networks.
Several academic programs have a strong focus on technology, including two-year AAS degrees in Computer Science, Business Technology, and Computer Accounting Technology.
The Workforce Development and Lifelong Learning (WDLL) Center at The University of the District of Columbia is a Washington, D.C., open-enrollment program committed to providing career-focused training in seven areas identified as critical skill gaps in the greater DC area.
Program offerings include Automotive, Construction, Early Childhood, Healthcare, Hospitality, IT, Logistics, and basic adult literacy and math coursework. WDLL is part of the same network of programs as UDC-CC, allowing students to benefit from campus internet connectivity and dedicated IT staff.
An accredited community college located in Largo, Maryland, Prince George's Community College (PGCC) has 40,000 students and over 100 fields of study. PGCC has had an intercampus fiber internet loop since 2015 and offers coursework in fiber-optic internet technology for future technicians.
Personnel at PGCC dedicated to information technology includes the "Owl Success Track" staff who support first-year students in becoming acclimated to the college's tech resources. Investments and innovations include a campus-wide emergency alert system, student apps, tech support, and wireless mobile charging stations campus-wide.
Located in La Plata, Maryland, College of Southern Maryland (CSM) is a rural community college serving a student body of nearly 25,000 on a 173-acre campus. Currently, students have access to 10 certificate and two-year degree programs in technology fields ranging from cybersecurity to web development.
The La Plata Office is home to many tech-dedicated personnel, including an Office of Information Management and a Technical Training Center. CSM’s Strategic Plan illustrates a commitment to evolving with technology and social change while maintaining fundamental principles.
Located on a 230-acre campus in Arnold, Maryland, Anne Arundel Community College (AACC) has a student enrollment of over 53,000 and over 1,600 full and part-time staff members. Fiber resources have recently significantly expanded in Anne Arundel County, reaching 52 buildings in the public school system.
This community college’s strategic plan includes some tech objectives, including increasing student engagement with academic and support programs and redesigning the campus alert system. Tech resources at AACC include loaner laptops, extended helpdesk support hours, and continual software improvements.
Located in Columbia, Maryland, Howard County Community College (HCCC) has over 10,000 students. A fiber network was installed on campus in 2015, providing students with campus-wide access to secure, high-speed internet.
HCCC has made some innovative technology-related investments in recent years, including the addition of a smart power software to improve campus sustainability. Students are provided with cybersecurity awareness training and password management tools in addition to online portals for course management and registration.
Montgomery College is a public community college with an enrollment of over 60,000 students at three campus locations in Rockville and Takoma Park, MD. This fully-accredited college offers more than 600 courses in 40 areas of study, including two-year degrees in liberal arts, sciences, applied sciences, education, and fine arts.
In 2016, the Instructional and Informational Technology team at Montgomery College faced a need to upgrade the infrastructure to a Unified Communications System. As one of the largest and most highly-regarded community colleges in Washington, D.C. and the nation, Montgomery needed to solve the challenges of staff working remotely, rising student expectations, and an aging communications infrastructure.
"Our students, faculty, and the broader community expect a best-in-class education experience, and this means putting a technology infrastructure in place to enable learning and working without boundaries," said former IT CIO and VP Carl Whitman.
Montgomery selected a Broadsoft-powered Unified Communications System offered by Washington, D.C. fiber internet provider Atlantech Online to create a next-generation connected campus powered by fiber-optic connectivity. Students and staff now benefit from unique, state-of-the-art collaborative technologies on laptops and mobile, productivity tools for all devices, and improved communications throughout the campus community.
Formally known as "NVCC" but more commonly abbreviated as "NOVA," Northern Virginia Community College is the largest multi-campus community college in Virginia and the second-largest in the U.S. With campuses in Alexandria, Annandale, Loudon, Manassas, Springfield, and Woodbridge, NOVA has a student body of over 77,000 and more than 2,500 full-time faculty and staff.
Information is not made available on the school website about whether NOVA's campus network is fiber-based. NOVA has many dedicated teams focused on technology, including web services, technology training, online learning, and instructional technology. Students can benefit from cutting-edge investments, including 35,000 online video tech training tutorials, and unique "web mashup" services.
Learn more about the benefits of cloud-based tech in higher ed in What Are the Best Phone Systems for Schools?
Selecting the Best Community College in Washington, D.C.
The right community college is a highly individual choice. Prospective students in the greater DC area have a wealth of options within several hours' distance, including renowned schools in Maryland, Virginia, and DC. Selecting the right college should involve considerations of school reputation, academic programs, costs, scholarship opportunities, and total student experience—including technology.
Regardless of whether you're headed for a tech-focused career, your future jobs will involve a great deal of technology on a day-to-day basis. Tech plays a vital role in communications between students and instructors, and for group collaboration. Choosing a community college with a commitment to tech innovation is often a healthy way to prepare for a positive experience and a fulfilling career.
Learn more about how Montgomery College transitioned to a next-generation, interconnected campus: download the Montgomery College Case Study.