Careers: Interviews
Dr. Elizabeth Hawthorne: Leading Top Educator, Professor, and Computing Professional; Chair ACM Two-year College Education Committee shares her valued insights into Security, the Semantic Web, education and online learning, skills and careers

This week, Stephen Ibaraki, FCIPS, I.S.P., ITCP, MVP, DF/NPA, CNP has an exclusive interview with Dr. Elizabeth Hawthorne.

Dr. Elizabeth HawthorneDr. Hawthorne is a Senior Professor of Computer Science at Union County College in Cranford, NJ and serves as Chair of the Association for Computing Machinery's Two-Year College Education Committee ( In her role as Chair of the ACM CCECC, she also serves as the principal investigator for a National Science Foundation grant, Strategic Summit on the Computing Education Challenges facing America's Community Colleges. She is a member of several ACM Special Interest Groups including SIGCSE, SIGCAS, SIGITE, and SIGSAC as well as the IEEE Computer Society, where she is listed in the annual Women in Engineering Directory.

After working several years in the healthcare industry, Dr. Hawthorne began her academic career as Director of Instructional Technology (1991) at Lehigh Carbon Community College in Schnecksville, Pennsylvania, where she also taught computer programming as an adjunct instructor. In 1994 she accepted a brand new position at Union County College as Manager of Academic Information Technologies and later joined the faculty as a full time assistant professor of computer science (1998). She was then promoted to the top rank of tenured, senior professor (2007) after earning a Ph.D. (2006) in computer information systems from Nova Southeastern University through a blended learning modality. Now as an alumna she mentors students in Nova's doctoral program providing guidance with dissertation research. In 2008 she was nominated by her Union County College colleagues for the Dr. Richard F. & Barbara Neblett Prize for Educational Excellence in Teaching & Learning. Dr. Hawthorne also achieved (2003) and maintains her Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) credential from the International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium (ISC2) and serves as a regional exam supervisor.

Dr. Hawthorne writes a semi-annual column, Community College Corner, for ACM Inroads. She co-authored a white paper entitled, Cybersecurity Education in Community Colleges Across America: a Survey of Four Approaches by Five Institutions (2002) that is published in Protecting Information: The Role of Community Colleges in Cybersecurity Education, a joint workshop sponsored by the National Science Foundation and the American Association for Community Colleges. She has made numerous presentations at regional, national and international conferences; her research pursuits include the scholarship of teaching and learning in both the physical and virtual classrooms as well as creating online communities of practice for computing educators. Dr. Hawthorne's comprehensive CV is available for viewing online at

To listen to the interview, click on this MP3 file link

The latest blog on the interview can be found in the IT Managers Connection (IMC) forum where you can provide your comments in an interactive dialogue.


Interview Time Index (MM:SS) and Topic

:00:49: Dr. Hawthorne talks about her education, training, work experience and other roles.
"....When I'm not teaching, I have the privilege of chairing the Two-Year College Education Committee for the Association for Computing Machinery. The TYCEC is responsible for ACM-endorsed curricula, assessment, and pedagogy specific to associate-degree granting institutions. The committee also promotes the scholarship of teaching and learning in a variety of computing education communities around the globe...."

:04:00: What were the biggest obstacles in your career and how did you overcome them?
"...I am not sure I would characterize them as obstacles, but rather as challenges. An obstacle is something that is possibly insurmountable and I don't think anything is insurmountable. One of the biggest and ongoing challenges is balancing career and family responsibilities....Another challenge is trying to keep pace with the rapid change in computing technology and staying current and relevant in the classroom, whether the physical or the virtual classroom...."

:05:51: What are some career lessons that you wish to pass on?
"....Be persistent....Be patient....Be open and responsive to change....Be both a good listener and a good communicator....Be a valuable member of the team...."

:06:23: You are a security professional. What essential best practices can you pass on to us based upon your experiences?
"....Most security breaches, whether innocent or malicious, come from within an organization rather than from external sources, but most countermeasures are focused on outsider threats...."

:07:10: Tell us more about the Semantic Web and Web Science, where you see this going, and why this matters to businesses and IT professionals?
"....The Semantic Web is not separate, but an extension of the existing World Wide Web that enables people to share content beyond the boundaries of current applications and websites. The Semantic Web is commonly referred to as Web 3.0 or a web of data where artificial intelligence and database programming meet....When you think about the generations of the web, Web 1.0 was basically readable for humans and the Semantic Web is readable for machines and people. It's the next generation...."

:09:58: Can you profile your top innovative achievements and how we can learn from them?
"....I'm really excited about the development of CAP Space....I learned that anyone can innovate just about anything, limited only by the human imagination and ingenuity...."

:10:25: What do you hope to achieve with the Association of Computing Machinery Two-Year College Education Committee (ACM TYCEC)?
"....Our hope is to expand our services to include not only curricular recommendations, but to also complement the computing curricula with effective assessment techniques and pedagogical approaches....Our new CAP Space resource is included on the website for the first ever Computer Science Education Week here in the United States, Dec. 6 - 12....This national event is aimed at raising awareness of computing and its role in society. ("

:11:37: What is CAP Space and how do you see this evolving?
"....CAP Space is an online, interactive repository of Curricula, Assessment and Pedagogy for associate-degree programs in computing. The initial phase of CAP Space went live in the third quarter of 2009 with ACM's updated computer science guidelines. You can visit the site at and give us your comments and suggestions through our Feedback forum...."

:12:38: What are the achievable outcomes from the Computing Education Summit funded by the National Science Foundation in the US?
"....The goal of this Strategic Summit is to identify the challenges of computing education programs facing America's Community Colleges over the next five years or so....It's our hope that through our dissemination efforts with the Summit proceedings, conference presentations, journal articles, and CAP Space that educators and industry representatives will tackle these challenges and offer viable solutions back to the community...."

:13:48: Explain Information Assurance (IA) education.
"....Information assurance (IA) is closely related to information security and the terms are sometimes used interchangeably. However, IA's broader connotation also includes reliability and emphasizes strategic risk management over tools and tactics. IA Education involves more than learning the technical details of network and computer security, it's also about risk management and ethical behavior...."

:15:28: What are the key technologies for online teaching and learning and what are your predications in this area?
"....The key technologies for online teaching and learning involve student-to-student interaction and communication as well as student-instructor interaction and communication. That's why social media technology is so popular today. This is also true for classroom teaching....My prediction is that successful online teachers will require additional technology skills and must adapt their teaching strategies and pedagogy to the new digital learners. I also think e-books are the future and printed texts are the past....I still prefer to read from books...."

:17:27: Tell us more about Second Life for Educators (SLED)?
"....I learned about the Second Life Educators community or SLED through ANGEL, the learning management system I use at Union County College. The ANGEL Learning Isle is a cooperative effort between ANGEL Learning and the Second Life Educators community who produced a virtual world designed for educational experimentation within Second Life. It's a virtual sandbox for newbies like me....A great resource for online educators interested in Second Life is:"

:20:07: What are the growth sectors for IT certification?
"....ISC² released a new security certification called CSSLP, Certified Secure Software Lifecycle Professional that establishes industry standards and instills best practices in the Software Development Lifecycle....SANS Institute through its Global Information Assurance Certifications offers two Secure Software Programmer certifications, one for the .NET platform and the other for the Java platform...."

:20:55: What leadership lessons can you share?
"....Subscribe to a moral code of ethics that defines who you are....Be a consistent communicator....the ability to build relationships...the courage to take calculated risks.....Having a strategic vision and plan to implement that vision...the ability to admit when you make a mistake...."

:21:49: Dr. Hawthorne describes her current work and what she hopes to achieve.

:22:39: What are the best resources for IT professionals? What are the best resources for educators and students?
".... magazine....ACM has a special interest group for IT Education...."

:24:52: What do you see as the three top challenges facing us today and how do you propose they be solved?
"....The global economy...Affordable and clean energy....The digital divide...."

:26:44: If you were conducting this interview, what questions would you ask, and then what would be your answers?
"....'What did I want to be growing up?'....'How did I become interested in a computing career?'....'What do I enjoy doing when I'm not computing?'...."

:28:31: Please provide your views on the IFIP IP3 program on professionalizing the profession and how it could improve the IT industry? [].
"....I commend the efforts of the IP3 program to standardize the term IT from a global perspective. Depending upon where you are in the world and who you are talking with, the term IT takes on different meanings....The IP3 Core Body of Knowledge and the Skills Framework for the Information Age provide a platform for thoughtful discussions and much needed guidance for our interdependent, global society that grows more dependent on information technology each day. I plan to use this model as a resource when the TYCEC updates its IT curricular guidelines...."


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