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November 27, 2017

Needs Analysis

Filed under: EDDL 5111 @ 3:59 am

Needs Analysis

As a small college in a rural area attracting students is challenging, even to quality programming. In addition the area is still recovering from the loss of the major area industry several years ago. For my program which is a cohort model that was initially established to serve the now closed industry, it is particularly evident. Enrollment is very cyclical, and can vary from 60% capacity to over subscribed in any given year. In a climate of limited funding it is necessary to find a way to supplement the cohort during low enrollment years with flexible courses that employ a blended or online model to attract and facilitate part-time learners. I will be implementing this model in the near future.

The Pilot Course

The course chosen as a pilot is an applied technical course on the hardware and software associated with industrial controls systems. The skills learned in this section are growing in demand locally. This module is the third course in the second year of the program, and the cohort students must pass all previous modules to access this one.

Target Demographic

The intent of the blended/online delivery is to facilitate entry into the program for local learners who may have obtained the prerequisite knowledge through other methods, (electricians or engineers). Typically they are employed, but looking to upgrade their skills. Being fully employed they are unable to access the course in its present form of a Monday to Friday in classroom format. There have been numerous calls from interested members of the community inquiring about taking this course as a standalone piece.

Format/Technologies

My preference would be to deliver this course using a blended delivery model. As in any subject there is a necessary theory component and this is the information I propose to deliver online. In the blended model the learner would still be required to physically attend the college to complete practical assignments, but this could be done at the convenience of the learner, allowing them to book lab time around their work schedule.

Simulation software does exist that would allow learners to access virtual models of the hardware and software. In an ideal scenario learners would be able to access both the simulation software remotely and the physical equipment in the lab, moving reasonably seamlessly between the two as their home and work life allows.

Support

The college is already delivering programs over a very wide geographical area and has a history of delivering programs utilizing various distributed learning methods (paper based, interactive television, and internet). The implementation would be done on the colleges existing distributed learning platform, Blackboard Learn. The IT infrastructure is already in place, and there is experience in supporting both faculty and new students in the technology.

The most significant investment will be in time. Existing resources will need to be migrated to online content. Additional technologies will need to be investigated to enhance the learning experience and hopefully mitigate the high dropout rate associated with typical online programming of this nature. Running this blended/online model in conjunction with the current cohort section will hopefully allow a combination of online contact through user forums and e-mails as well as in person interactions for both cohort and remote users.

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