Harper's new programs help bolster career options
Harper College is offering two new credential programs beginning this fall semester.
The Health Education Teaching Endorsement Certificate is for licensed educators, or students studying to become one, who seek to teach health classes, no matter the grade level.
The Audio/Video Arts Technology Certificate brings together audio, visual and technology instruction to help students be well-versed in the multidisciplinary world of A/V tech.
Harper created both programs, each approved by the Illinois Community College Board, to help students bolster their career options in fields with bright career outlooks. Each program can be completed in less than a year and is led by highly qualified and credentialed faculty with experience and connections in their fields.
In the case of the A/V Arts Tech certificate, those faculty members include Brian L. Shelton, associate professor in Mass Communication, and Edward Hamel, instructor and Department of Music chair.
They also represent the collaborative effort that was needed to bring together the facets of video and audio production in a way that resembles the range of expertise crucial to those working in A/V tech.
"Several four-year schools have audio technology or film production programs. Very rarely do the two meet," Shelton said. "But you can't do video without audio. The people who get the jobs in this industry are the people who can do audio, they can do video and they can make the computer work."
That's why the 22-credit program includes an IT Fundamentals course, providing students with a hands-on foundation in the digital world. Of course, the technological aspects hardly end there. Many of the video and audio courses are new, taking advantage of state-of-the-art A/V equipment, as well as a planned audio studio on Harper's campus.
"I'm excited about infusing more technology into the music department and bringing in the audio world," Hamel said. "It can broaden the student demographic to people who might be at home making their own beats, recording their own vocals. And this program will give any student exposure to so many different elements."
The A/V Arts Tech program will culminate in an internship -- also a new endeavor -- which can provide the next level of real-world experience.
"Students are interested, and there are jobs in this type of media work," Shelton said. "As industries have transitioned to more teleconferencing and virtual events, people who have the skills to run the audio, the video and the technology -- and can do it remotely -- become very important."
That variety of knowledge and experience is just as important in education. Licensed teachers can make themselves more valuable and marketable with the addition of endorsements, such as Harper's new Health Education Endorsement Certificate. For instance, Illinois high schools are mandated to include one semester of health classes for students. Districts are always in need of teachers who can split their time excelling in different areas of instruction.
Although the program is new, the six courses that comprise it already existed at Harper, said Dr. Pardess Mitchell, associate professor in Mathematics and Science. College faculty and staff brought these 18 credits together for this program, in part because of feedback from Harper students.
"Harper's program is more affordable than getting an endorsement at a four-year school," Mitchell said. "With online, on-campus and blended courses, our curriculum is more flexible, and it's guaranteed."
Flexibility is key to suit the schedules of both teachers in training and those who are already licensed and working. As a former public school teacher, Mitchell knows how important it is to meet new and experienced educators on their timelines.
"Offering these courses online, as well as eight-week versions, allows those who are working to be able to do it on their schedule," she said, emphasizing that the program's cost and online availability should make it attractive to a wide audience.
"Students can do the courses anywhere -- not just in our area, not just in Illinois."