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22st Annual OLC International Conference
November 16-18, 2016 | Orlando, Florida | Walt Disney World Swan/Dolphin Resort

OLC Innovate 2016 - Innovations in Blended and Online Learning
April 20-22, 2016 | New Orleans, LA | Sheraton New Orleans Hotel

An Insider's View: Using Public Policy to Build and Reinforce a National Workforce Development Digital Learning Model

Kristin Frady (Clemson University, USA)
Rebecca Hartley (Clemson University Center for Workforce Development & Clemson University, USA)
Additional Authors
Kapil Chalil Madathil (Clemson University, USA)
Session Information
October 16, 2015 - 10:45am
Leadership, Values and Society
Major Emphasis of Presentation: 
Practical Application
Major Emphasis of Presentation: 
Theory/Conceptual Framework
Institutional Level: 
Multiple Levels
Audience Level: 
Session Type: 
Information Session
Southern Hemisphere I
Session Duration: 
45 Minutes
Concurrent Session 10
Virtual Session
Best in Track

This session shares perspectives on how economic, legislative, and civic engagement reinforce a national model utilizing digital learning as a workforce development strategy.

Extended Abstract

The manufacturing sector has a large footprint in the United States economy representing 8.8% of total U.S. employment yet 67% of manufacturers report a shortage in available, qualified workers. Further, only 39% of American's hold a postsecondary credential yet it is predicted that 63% of all jobs will require a postsecondary degree by 2018. To combat these troubling trends the technological education and higher education communities must implement new and innovative programs aimed at improving attainment of postsecondary credentials and creating, sustaining, and retaining a well-trained and highly qualified workforce to support the labor demands of current and future industry. New, state-of-the-art digital learning tools are poised to be game changers in this field affording greater accessibility and flexibility to all students (particularly nontraditional and underrepresented students), empowering 21st Century digital learners, and increasing enrollment capacity of higher education programs. However; the success and impact of these programs is strongly correlated with economic, legislative, and civic engagement and partnership in these ventures.

The Clemson University Center for Workforce Development (CUCWD) and the National Science Foundation Advanced Technological Education Center, CA2VES, represent regional leadership and engage a broad range of activities, policies, and programs across the public and private-sector. This session shares an inside view of how economic, legislative, and civic engagement impact and reinforce a national model utilizing digital learning tools as a technological education workforce development strategy. The goal of this session is the share with participants three key societal policy factors which play a critical role in fostering or inhibiting innovation in education.
1. Partnerships: Development of partnerships with economic development agencies, commerce groups, industry, governmental agencies (both regional and federal), nonprofit organizations, and educational organizations is vital to connecting resources and providing a holistic perspective. CUCWD will focus on identifying key partners critical to the success of academic and workforce development programs with particular focus on federal partnerships instrumental in supporting policy initiatives.
2. Funding: New, pioneering digital learning ventures require a diverse portfolio of funding sources which blend public funds (local, state, and federal) with private funds (foundation, industry investment, and local revenue streams). Participants will be exposed to a variety of ongoing funding opportunities which have traditionally supported innovative educational programs in technological education and workforce development.
3. Legislation: Higher education has a responsibility to provide relevant research to help inform policy. There are multiple pieces of federal legislation which impact workforce development and higher education. These range from the Higher Education Act to the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act to the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. Additionally, there have been numerous reports from the White House on a variety of topics including STEM Education, Higher Education, U.S. Manufacturing and others. Participants will be provided with an overview of relevant federal higher education and workforce development policy priorities and how these policies may impact education at a local level.

Over a four year period, careful nurturing and integration of these three primary social and political facets has enabled CUCWD to leverage over $13 million in public-private funding to develop a new digital learning model for technological education. Previously demonstrated success and impact of CUCWD's model revolve around four key areas: (1) Development of digital learning tools to expand technological education capacity. CUCWD has individually created over 70 virtual reality tools and over 75 advanced e-learning modules. Additionally, CUCWD has co-developed hundreds of digital learning modules through Department of Labor grant programs. (2) Creation of unique Pathways for articulation. Working with partners across SC, CUCWD is working to create and use stackable certificates and unique articulation agreements to improve the employability and earning potential of the local labor market. (3) Utilizing K-12 STEM Education as a recruitment tool for workforce development programs. To increase access and support of recruitment for students in technological education programs, CUCWD has developed e-learning and recruitment materials for K-12 impacting over 60% of SC school districts and utilized industry partnerships to engage in program-specific recruitment campaigns impacting over 500 educators nationwide. (4) Increasing the focus on research, outreach, and networking. CUCWD focuses on conducting research relevant to workforce development and higher education which supports development of new partnerships and helps to advocate the message and importance of utilizing educational initiatives as workforce and policy shaping tools. The four components of this model will also be shared with participants.

Participants from regions with existing or a need for technological and workforce development academic programs may find this session particularly helpful as multiple concrete examples of integration of technology-enhanced learning with social and policy factors will be shared. Further, this session will provide suggestions to participants on how to best leverage partnerships, funding opportunities, and legislation to enhance and grow their current online or digital learning tools and programs. The exchange will help identify, understand, and elevate best practices; facilitate peer learning and deepen knowledge; spark replication and advancement across regions; and inform long-term public investment in talent development.

This interactive session features upbeat music, participant participation in collaborative brainstorming, virtual reality simulation and digital learning tool demonstrations, and a reflective question handout to encourage participants to consider how the social and political elements reinforcing the CUCWD model might support technological education and workforce development initiatives in their own institutions.

Lead Presenter

Kris Frady is the Director of Operations for Clemson University Center for Workforce Development and the National Science Foundation Advanced Technological Education Center for Aviation and Automotive Technological Education using Virtual E-Schools (CA2VES). Kris earned an Ed.D. in Curriculum and Instruction in Education Technology and Online Learning from the University of Florida and also holds business and teaching degrees from Clemson University and the University of South Carolina. Kris has previously worked as a professional corporate trainer, as an instructor at a two-year institution, and as a career and technology education teacher at the high school level. Her research interests include implementation of digital learning solutions in technological and vocational education, development of career pathways utilizing stackable certificates, educator professional development in communities of practice, and analysis of economic development and industry factors impacting education and workforce development.