Category Archives: Business, Agriculture, Engineering Sciences & Technologies, and Computer Science & Information Technology

Eek! It’s a MOS!

This time of the semester, you’ll hear a lot of talk about MOS among students in the Office Professional program. For some students, MOS is something they’d just as soon run away from. For others, it is viewed as a valuable opportunity to hone their skills and prove their expertise.

What’s a MOS?

So what is a MOS, anyway, and why can it be so scary?

MOS is an industry certification. It stands for Microsoft Office Specialist, and attaining MOS certification means you have demonstrated a certain level of expertise in an Office application. The certification is gaining recognition among employers who are looking for staff who not only know applications, but know them well.

There is a different MOS exam for each major Microsoft Office application. For Word and Excel, there are two levels of certification: Core (which requires passing one exam) and Expert (which comes in two parts, or two exams).

MOS exams are challenging. It’s not enough just to know how to use the software; you have to know how to use it to solve problems without being given step-by-step instructions. Sometimes they even test on skills not covered in class. As noted above, this is an industry certification, which means your Parkland instructors have no control over how it is created or scored. And though many of us are MOS-certified in one or more applications, we don’t even know exactly what’s on them. And if we did, we couldn’t tell you.

Here are a few more details regarding MOS exams:

  • MOS exams are project-based. The test candidate is presented a project to complete and some specific instructions regarding how to complete it.
  • Practice exams are available.
  • Taking a MOS exam requires agreeing to a non-disclosure agreement. This means that test-takers agree not to tell anyone the details of what’s on the exam.
  • Test results are given in the form of categories and percentages. We never know exactly which questions we got right, and which we got wrong.
  • Passing a MOS exam results in an immediate sense of accomplishment, which almost always translates to a big smile, happy feet, and perhaps even a spontaneous “Woohoo!”

How can you take a MOS exam?

MOS exams are administered at approved Certiport testing facilities, and you have a couple of options for taking them:

  • Purchase a voucher through Certiport, where the cost ranges from $100-$150, depending upon retake and study material options. Then, arrange a time with the testing facility of your choice, present your voucher and photo ID, and take the test.
  • Take an applications class through the CSIT Department at Parkland. Students who successfully complete CIS 131 (PowerPoint), CIS 134 (Excel), CIS 135 (Word), CIS 138 (Access) or CTC 119 (Outlook) are offered the opportunity to take the MOS exam for that application. Students who complete the courses via the equivalent CTC sequences are also eligible. For some courses, the MOS exam is required. For others, it is optional. In either case, work with your instructor to arrange an exam time at no additional cost to you.

What about multiple MOS certifications?

Some students take full advantage of the opportunity to get certified and take as many MOS exams as their program (or budget) allows. A few things can happen here:

  • They might earn Parkland’s Microsoft Application Specialist Certificate, which requires 14 hours of coursework (five courses, four applications) and passing at least three MOS exams.
  • They might become certified as a MOS Master.
  • They might advance professionally by their documented deep knowledge of software applications.

So, the next time you hear someone fretting about a MOS here on campus, there’s no need to glance nervously around the floor or jump onto the nearest chair. This is only a test.

University of Illinois Students Take Classes at Parkland College

I will bet that most University of Illinois students are not aware of how many of their fellow students are taking courses at Parkland College while attending Illinois. The numbers might surprise you, because so many are taking our online courses; thus, they are almost in “stealth” mode.

In fact, about 400 Illinois students will take one or more Parkland College classes this spring. It is not unusual to see that number swell to around 2,000 Illinois students during the summer term.

The online course format allows students to complete their Parkland courses around Illinois classes, work schedules, and social activities; this is the most popular mode for taking our classes. Students who prefer the traditional course format take classes at our campus in the afternoon, late afternoon, and evening so they will fit in with their busy schedules.

Some Parkland courses traditionally have a significant number of Illinois students enrolled. Examples include online Physics 121 and 122 (the equivalent of Illinois’s PHYS 101 and 102) and basic general education courses like Psychology 101 (equivalent to PSYC 100) and History 105 (equivalent to HIST 172)—a nice choice to meet the Illinois Cultural Studies: Western/Comparative and Humanities and the Arts: Historical and Philosophical Perspectives requirements.

Of course, in order to enroll in any courses, you’ll need to complete some basic tasks. You can begin the process of applying to Parkland as a Course Enrollee (a person not working toward a degree or certificate at Parkland) online by going to http://www.parkland.edu/getStarted. As a current Illinois student, you would be considered a “concurrent enrollment” student at Parkland.

You can find procedures and forms for domestic students at the University of Illinois website, at http://provost.illinois.edu/programs/advising/Concurrent_Enrollment_domestic.pdf. Procedures and forms for international students are available at http://provost.illinois.edu/programs/advising/Concurrent_Enrollment_international.pdf. Please note the instructions very carefully. You must meet Parkland’s prerequisites for the courses and must verify this by bringing with you your Academic History from Illinois Student Self-Service.

If you are wondering how Parkland courses transfer to Illinois, check out the transfer course matrix at http://online.parkland.edu/transferpatterns/index.cfm.

So, if you are looking to squeeze in one more course or maybe looking for a different time or a format that you are unable to get  at Illinois, taking a class at Parkland College might just be for you. We would love to have you!

Parkland College is open until Dec. 23 to take your registrations.

Please note that all Parkland College transfer classes are freshman and sophomore level. For additional enrollment information, contact Parkland’s Office of Admissions.

John Sheahan
Director, Counseling and Advising Center

Black Friday

Black Friday: Dreaded by some, revered by others.

Today, I was reading over an article published in the News-Gazette on Black Friday and how to survive it, and it amazed me how many suggestions had to do with “technology.” Here are five of my favorites:

One: Plan ahead….. scope WEBSITES out ahead of time. Use price comparison sites such as BradsDeals.com and PriceGrabber.com.

Two: Shop ONLINE. Some stores offer special deals online only.

Three: Use SOCIAL MEDIA. Sign up for Twitter feeds from your favorite stores. “Like” official Facebook pages of favorite stores. Shop on Amazon.com’s Instagram feed!

Four: Bring the ads with you. Having the physical ad with you will ensure you get the advertised price. Hey, no technology here! Amazing!

Five: Use new store apps or website features. Target uses Point Inside technology that pins the location of sought-after items like doorbuster deals onto interactive store maps. Toys R Us is using a new app to find what you are looking for down to the shelf it’s located on…and they also push deals to your smartphone WHILE YOU’RE IN THE STORE!

Makes you wonder how our parents ever found anything at Christmas time!?  Also, just makes you wonder!  🙂

Did you know we have classes here at Parkland that teach you how to develop mobile apps and create the databases that places like Facebook and Instagram use to store all those millions of posts? Check out CSC 212 – Mobile Application Development; CSC220 – Data Structures; CSC192 – Database Administration; and CIS231 – Systems Analysis, Design, and Administration. And if you haven’t done so already,  ENROLL TODAY for spring 2015 classes—the deadline for registration and payment (to avoid course drops) is December 16!

The Parkland Shed

Completed sheds in the lab
Completed sheds in the lab

I moved into a new house last year, and it quickly became apparent that I could use a shed.  After asking around about where to get a shed, I decided to purchase one from Parkland College.  Everyone had nothing but good things to say about them.

The sheds are built as part of the CIT 115 course with Greg Walburg. The course is part of Construction Design and Management, Construction Design and Management: Contracting, and the Building Construction and Repair programs.

Sheds under construction
Sheds under construction
For sale sign on Mattis
For sale sign on Mattis
Parkland Shed Installed
Parkland Shed Installed

CIT Instructor: Dustin Stuart graduated with honors from Parkland in May 2014 with a degree in Construction Design and Management: Contracting. He is currently working for a remodeling contractor here in CU and is also a Teacher’s Assistant at Parkland for CIT 115.  I asked him about his experience in the course and if he had any advice for students thinking about going into one of the Construction programs at Parkland College.  This is what he told me:

“It was two years ago this semester that I started my program and CIT 115 was my favorite class that semester. I had previous knowledge of contracting work, but this class helped greatly in turning me into a professional. The most valuable lessons I learned from this class was how to read and interpret construction plans, teamwork, and project management.

In CIT 115, you get to experience home building basics in a comfortable lab environment with plenty of tools at your disposal. This is a dream vacation in comparison to getting your education on the roof of a house on a 90 degree day in July. In addition to the excellent lab space you have experienced teachers and students to help guide you along.

The only advice I could offer new students considering this degree is to just do it! Todd Horton and Greg Walburg are excellent teachers that care a lot about their students and their success. Every time I walked into one of their offices to ask about homework, a project, or even personal advice they always took the time to speak with me. You meet a lot of excellent students as well in this program. I still keep in touch both personally and professionally with most of my class mates. In addition to being a great program, Parkland is an excellent school. They have so many programs in place to help you succeed and a staff and faculty that are top notch.”

Learn about enrolling at Parkland College during the College Open House Friday, November 7.

If you’re interested in getting a shed for your yard, contact Greg Walburg at 373-3784 or gwalburg@parkland.edu.