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Hands-On Learning: Thought Leaders in Online Education

Thought Leaders in Online Education: Hands-On Learning

One Million by One Million Blog by Sramana Mitra
Part 1, August 27, 2014
Part 2, August 28, 2014

There is a huge gap between industry and academia today. Learn more about the lay of the land and identify opportunities for entrepreneurship.

Sramana Mitra: Let’s start with giving our audience a bit of context about Hands-On Learning (HOL). What do you do? What major online education industry trends are you aligning with?

John Miller: I’m the Managing Partner and Chief Operating Officer of HOL. We’re a distance learning technology and consulting company that is focused on aligning education and private industry for effective workforce development, specifically in the STEM disciplines. In my role, I’m focusing on both sides of the fence, but we have an initiative that targets bringing industry and education together to focus on those STEM-related fields. We have about 14 years of experience working with universities and hundred thousand students. We have a pretty good perspective on education and what it takes to affect distance learning as a delivery vehicle.

Sramana Mitra: Who are your clients?

John Miller: From the HOL product solutions, we have a thousand universities today and a couple of hundred thousand students that are utilizing our solutions. In the area of the STEM initiative, we’re focusing on a dozen universities in North America building this unique relationship between the university and private industry. Historically, the relationship between those two entities has been limited in scope to grants and endowments. What we’re endeavoring to do is initiate a meaningful partnership between those two parties.

If you talk to the educational groups and look at their perspective on a graduating student, how much of the skill set required to enter the workforce do they really have? The answer you get is typically 70%. From the industry side, their perspective is closer to 50%. There’s a major gap and they both agree that there’s a gap.

I can only speak of one because we’re under non-disclosure agreements (NDA), and NDA with most but one has become public. That is a partnership between Cal State and Kaiser Permanente. Their focus is on educating their nursing community. We’re working with them to essentially identify where the gap lies and how can it be bridged, and taking their existing workforce and bringing them back to the educational process, so they can continue to grow through the career path of nursing.

Sramana Mitra: Where is the gap? What are you learning in this process?

John Miller: A lot of it is around competency-based education. One of the big areas that have been a challenge for education is providing the clinical experience of effectively bridging some of those skill gaps. Partnering these two groups together helps facilitate that but it goes a wide stream. We can identify a lot of different areas.

A case example is that the primary tool that a nurse uses in her role revolves around electronic medical record systems. I don’t know of any school that is actually conducting training with that primary tool. We do an assessment on both sides. On the education side, we look at their capabilities and the content and competencies they have relating to that. We can identify a number of gaps in that area. It’s all over the place but competency-based education seems to be the solution that is most viable here.

Sramana Mitra: Then what do you do to fill those gaps? Do you develop content modules to be delivered over the Internet around those skill gap areas?

John Miller: What we are in the process of doing with our clients is identifying the gaps and then, building a goal alignment. We go through a very detailed assessment on both sides. We try to identify what lines of business in their arena are changing, and what are the talent requirements that are going to be needed going forward.

One of the areas that we found in healthcare is that there’s a shift away from the hospital and the clinic, and moving into home healthcare as a direct fulfillment of this bubble that the baby boomers are bringing in. It was just unbelievable. Honestly, we’re going to need somewhere between three and five times the amount of skilled nursing in three to five years. We can see that this is forthcoming. Yet there wasn’t an initiative through education or between industry and education to really start to make that happen. In fact, we’ve found that a lot of universities were discouraging people going into nursing, because there isn’t a significant demand at the current moment when in fact, in a relatively short period of time, there’s going to be a huge need.

It’s really finding these issues and doing alignment. What are the skills? What are the talents that are going to be required?

Sramana Mitra: What you just mentioned is not just skill training. That is a question of communicating with the educational institution on what professions the career development office should guide the students towards.

John Miller:Yes, absolutely. As you go down this path, the missing link is education does not know the next generation or the next strategic move by a lot of these industries they serve. Through this process, we’re building a strategic alliance between industry and education so they can identify what are the skills and talent requirements going forward so education can impact that. All of the STEM challenge-related initiatives are really focused at K-12. We’re one of the very different, or at least one of the few, that are really focused on today’s workforce.

When we sit down and go through this with an industry, what we’re finding is that they have a huge number of existing employees who want to go back to school. Honestly, what we’re providing now is a new tool for education to engage that body of new students that’ll be coming back in. Kaiser is talking about 40,000 employees who’ll come back into that process.

 

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Hands-On Learning earns Quality Matters certification

Hands-On Learning Earns Quality Matters Certification

Hands-On Learning (HOL) is pleased to announce it has earned the first and only science lab content certification by Quality Matters (QM). HOL is a distance learning technology and consulting company providing innovative STEM solutions to align higher education with private industry for effective workforce development. HOL delivers the only product on the market that combines a cloud-based learning platform, modern teaching theories and the essential hands-on science component to build STEM competencies in higher education and today’s workforce.

A leader in quality assurance for online education, QM has received national recognition for its peer-based approach to continuous improvement in online education and student learning.  QM’s rigorous standards evaluate diversity in student assessments, comprehensiveness in instructional materials, amount and quality of student engagement and intuitive, accessible technology.

“We’re honored to be recognized as the industry leader by a well-respected authority in the field,”said John Miller, Chief Operating Officer at HOL.“HOL’s distance learning solutions provide higher education institutions the opportunity to provide today’s generation with the hands-on experience and skills required to best develop the workforce.”

HOL’s industry-recognized model is built upon the principle of blending hands-on experimentation with cutting-edge technology to yield a powerful yet flexible educational experience. To meet the increasingly diverse needs of institutions, HOL offers three product lines with more than 500 lab experiences covering all major science disciplines. Each product line allows the experience to be tailored to students and instructors, and features laboratory-grade equipment and materials for a hands-on learning environment. All coursework is guided by well-defined learning objectives that follow a Bloom’s taxonomy progression, assisting with student development of higher order thinking skills. The cloud-based digital learning platform provides for anywhere, anytime learning, allowing for higher education institutions to reach more students and provide superior instruction.

LabBridge Solutions, HOL’s premier solution set, boosts instructor and student interaction via rich, engaging technology. The product’s digital features also provide meaningful analytics, empowering instructors to instantaneously deliver content and track progress. LabPaq, HOL’s deluxe solution set, delivers a customizable curriculum with the flexibility to configure a set of experiments to meet course-level learning objectives. STEMpaq, HOL’s most recent addition, serves as the solution for the economically minded institution, satisfying the fundamental laboratory competencies required for general education.

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Hands-On Learning - Business Must Align with Schools to Close Skills Gap

Business Must Align with Schools to Close “Skills Gap”

Denver Post Article by Howard Pankratz, July 6, 2014

Poor alignment of American businesses with the schools that train their workers is creating a “skills gap” that may make it hard to fill as many as 650,000 technical- and science-based jobs by 2018.

The country needs a shift in how industry and educational institutions relate to each other, economists and business executives say.

“We do not take an approach — either at the national level or state level – that creates an ease of communications between employers and educational institutions that are going to impart skills and background to potential employees,” said Joe Fuller, a Harvard Business School professor and faculty member of the school’s U.S. Competitiveness Project. “This is why we have 12 million to 13 million unemployed people and 650,000 job openings in manufacturing right now.”

Recent college graduates typically have only about half the skills they need in the workplace, according to John Miller, chief operating officer for Denver-based consulting firm Hands-On Learning.

This forces businesses struggling to find qualified employees — in areas such as computers, mathematics, architecture, engineering, management, and health care — to educate workers in-house, which is costly.

“We really need to have universities run as businesses,” said Miller, whose company helps universities develop workforce programs. “It begins with the understanding that what they deliver to the market is a commodity: that’s a graduate.”

Since not all students can — or want to — go on to college, the American education system must provide alternatives.

Fuller, who is studying how the skills gap relates to boosting U.S. business competitiveness, estimates that 35 percent of people go to college today, compared with 5 percent in 1940.

“We’ve made a lot of progress, but the notion that 35 percent is going to 100 percent ever, let alone soon, is plain crazy,” said Fuller.

Most people will be trained for work that requires “middle skills” or “low skills” — jobs requiring more than a high school education but less than a four-year college degree, he said.

“I’m not saying we should be a nation of shopkeepers,” he said, adding there are areas besides advanced manufacturing jobs and computer scientists that need attention.

Fuller said many technical and professional schools are not nimble in upgrading curriculum to compete in the changing business world, and U.S. employers often lack effective workforce planning.

Fuller has studied how western European countries fill jobs.

aligning education and employment

(The Denver Post)

Some of those countries track and test children from their early years to their teenage years, steering them into lifetime occupations for which they are deemed suited.

Fuller and Miller say such tracking would be alien to U.S. culture.

But Fuller says the educators must start talking to kids and their parents at a young age about what the children would like to do and coordinate that with business.

“What we can draw (from the European experience) is to have that dialogue early to allow families to think about what their kids are actually interested in doing and having an aptitude for,” Fuller said.

Fuller said a big issue is the lack of counseling for children and their families and mid-career counseling for people who are out of work.

“We under-invest in that capability in our school systems and in our departments of labor in different states,” he said.

Navin Dimond, CEO of Stonebridge Companies, an Englewood-based hotel manager, sees a problem with an education system that presumes all students will head to college after high school.

Dimond, who recently donated $1.5 million to Metropolitan State University of Denver’s hotel management program, said students should have a variety of educational opportunities from which to choose.

Some students may need only high school plus a few years of vocational or trade school. Others may want an apprenticeship during high school.

“I don’t think everyone wants the four-year education,” said Dimond, whose company owns and operates dozens of hotels in the U.S.

Hands-On’s Miller said the fortunes of business and universities might also be linked by developing programs for mid-career workers.

Rising costs are keeping many out of college, Miller said, and dwindling enrollment threatens the economic viability of some universities. To survive, he said, universities have to change how they operate.

Private industry, he said, could pick up some of the tab through partner programs that allow workers to advance their education while remaining employed.

“At the end of the day, industry is going to win, and it is going to lower the cost of operation if they do it effectively,” Miller said. “The schools will then migrate to a new revenue model by working with industry.”

 

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Hands-On Learning - Addressing the STEM Challenge Through Distance Learning

Op-Ed: Addressing the STEM Challenge Through Distance Learning

US News & World Report Article by Kevin Melendy, May 5, 2014

The United States, ranked 26th in STEM education, is in crisis to differentiate itself in the global economy – an economy in which innovation serves as the hallmark for success. Of great concern is the fact that while today’s educators believe their STEM graduates complete school with 70 percent of the employable skills they will need in the marketplace, employers have found this number to be closer to 50 percent. While statistics differ, both industry and higher education agree that there is a substantial gap that must be filled regarding our employable workforce.

The bulk of today’s STEM initiatives are aimed at resolving our nation’s STEM challenge by focusing on K-12 students, preparing future generations for successful career paths. However, there is a need to address this issue immediately, impacting today’s workforce, the “forgotten generation.” The two groups that can most rapidly effect change to the present STEM challenge in the workforce are university students as well as continuing-education professionals. While separate, both of these groups struggle with similar challenges — financial and time resources — requiring a solution that is accessible from both a monetary and a logistical perspective.

The solution for 2014 and beyond for best equipping the workforce is through online learning, not only eliminating restrictions on time and financial resources, but, when implemented properly, has been demonstrated to be just as effective as face-to-face instruction, if not more so.

Previously, the barrier for teaching STEM disciplines in an online environment was the inability of students to experience hands-on wet labs for the experimentation components of these courses. However, with the availability of wet labs delivered directly to students to supplement online courseware, this barrier no longer exists. Additionally, by eliminating the group format of face-to-face experiments, online STEM students, responsible for the entire experiment, walk away with a greater depth of knowledge.

Our healing economy isn’t translating into increased enrollment for higher education and institutions still battle for financial and personnel resources. These institutions must find new methods of generating revenue outside the traditional pathways. In addition, schools have very finite limitations on financial and physical resources to provide students. For example, a university’s nursing program may have the capacity to accept 50 face-to-face students, but have 2,500 applicants. By delivering the first two years of prerequisite STEM courses in an online setting, the university may expand the pool of students for acceptance thereby increasing tuition revenues without tying up personnel or facility resources.

To that end, online delivery of STEM courses also impacts global scalability by overcoming geographical barriers to face-to-face education, further benefiting U.S. higher education institutions.

Today’s STEM workforce, while critical, is still in need of continuing education to keep up with the latest developments within the STEM fields. By incorporating an online delivery for STEM courseware, higher education institutions are far better equipped to partner with STEM industry organizations looking to support continuing education for employees with as little disruption to productivity as possible. Online delivery of STEM courses for continuing education addresses the crises of current workforce competency gaps that exist at the present time and also make available an improved and continuous method of managing talent resources to keep up with global technology advances.

With the classic barriers for acceptance no longer at issue, online delivery of STEM courses have become a viable, and in some cases, preferable, solution to solving our nation’s STEM challenge.

 

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Hands-On Learning online labs

HOL Founder Featured in Kauffman/Khan Academy Entrepreneurship Series

HOL Founder Featured in Kauffman/Khan Academy Entrepreneurship Series

(KANSAS CITY, Mo.) April 8, 2014 – New content posted today on the Kauffman/Khan Academy entrepreneurship interview series features founders of five vastly different companies whose innovations have reinvented their industries. Adding to a collection of founders already featured in the series, the latest contributors share how they started in their garage, home or apartment with an idea and today run growing companies.

Presented in a conversational format with accompanying illustrations, the 14 videos feature five entrepreneurs who share insights that include ideas for how to pivot from startup to growth stage, how filing patents can protect intellectual property and how navigating the challenges of running a business is like sailing through unexpected currents.

The entrepreneurs featured in the new interview series are:

Founders already featured in the series include Giles Shih, president and CEO of BioResource International; Lara Morgan, founder of Pacific Direct; Marc Ecko, founder of Ecko Unlimited; Richard Branson, chairman of the Virgin Group; T.A. McCann, founder and CEO of Gist; and Zach Kaplan, CEO of Inventables.

Personal lessons and insights from accomplished entrepreneurs are the basis of the Khan Academy online interview series produced by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. The series represents the first entrepreneurship content to be added to the Academy’s vast collection of free online educational tutorials and learning resources, potentially inspiring its 6 million student users a month.

Since launching in the fall of 2013, the series has generated more than 144,000 views. The Kauffman Foundation will continually add new content featuring more entrepreneurs. To see the Kauffman/Khan entrepreneurship interview series, go to https://www.khanacademy.org/r/entrepreneurship.

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Hands-On Learning News

Hands-On Learning Expands Executive Team

Hands-On Learning is pleased to announce Kevin Melendy as President and CEO, and John Miller as Managing Partner and Chief Operating Officer. Melendy, with a track record of more than 25 years of transforming technology organizations, and Miller, a serial technology entrepreneur, have combined efforts to address and solve the current experience gap between the STEM workforce and needs of industry. Melendy and Miller were drawn to Hands-On Learning for its unique approach to solving this problem in today’s STEM workforce through innovative distance learning solutions and consulting services. Hands-On Learning is a distance learning technology and consulting company providing innovative STEM solutions to align higher education and private industry for effective workforce development.

“Joining an organization like Hands-On Learning is invigorating. Everyday we’re taking a major problem in this country and advancing real solutions to impact change,” said Kevin Melendy. “The United States has made significant progress in addressing the STEM challenge at the K-12 level. However, we’re targeting an entire generation that, despite its potential to effect change immediately, has been largely overlooked: today’s generation.”

As President and Chief Executive Officer, Melendy is building long-term business strategies that focus on Hands-On Learning’s core competencies to drive business. Melendy is poised to serve as a leading agent of change for Hands-On Labs relative to corporate culture and product development and is developing the personnel resources necessary to fulfill the company’s vision and empower employees to act as change agents. Prior to joining Hands-On Learning, Melendy served as CEO at Spectral Response, helping to transform the company from a struggling family-owned business to a leading competitor in its market.

Serving as Chief Operating Officer and Managing Partner, Miller leads Hands-On Learning’s consulting arm, HOL Consulting Services, working to align private industry and higher education institutions to prepare students for STEM-discipline careers. Miller utilizes more than 14 years of experience serving 700 universities and hundreds of thousands of student experiences in distance learning to advance Hands-On Learning’s initiatives. He founded and led three successful Silicon Valley technology ventures – two M&As and one IPO – with successful outcomes.

“My concern lies in how the United States can differentiate in the world economy. With innovation as the hallmark of our nation’s success, we must take considerable steps to address the gap in STEM workforce competency,” said John Miller. “Hands-On Learning tackles this issue head on by pairing the STEM industry with higher education institutions to improve competency-based learning and deliver it in a way that is unhindered by time, place or education level.”

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