teachinglearning

A look at the OPM market, spring 2018

E-literate's review of the online program management space reveals diversifying priorities among institutional partners.

Study finds the lecture remains dominant form of teaching in STEM

New study of undergraduate STEM courses finds that lectures remain dominant -- despite finding after finding questioning their effectiveness.

Pulse podcast features Bryan Alexander's keynote on higher ed 'beyond millennials'

This month's episode of the Pulse podcast presents audio and video of Bryan Alexander's keynote speech at the USciences eLearning 3.0 conference last month.

OER gains momentum with federal push in 2018 budget

Congress has set aside $5 million for an open educational resources pilot program -- the most significant federal push for alternative textbooks. Advocates are encouraged.

How SUNY Geneseo produces unusually high number of physics majors

SUNY Geneseo graduated 35 physics majors last year -- about 30 more than the nation's average at institutions without graduate programs.

Expert on virtual reality believes its higher ed impacts are still developing

Jeremy Bailenson, a Stanford professor who's dedicated his career to developing and studying virtual reality, thinks the tool is slowly but surely asserting itself in the higher ed classroom.

Group seeks to set standards for flipping the classroom

Finding many educators are using outdated flipped learning techniques, a new group proposes global training standards to keep them up to date.

How to adapt the German apprenticeship model to work best in the U.S.

The American industrial sector is at a crossroads. The fourth industrial revolution has ushered in automation and precision manufacturing that increasingly requires highly specialized skills. Employers, government officials and higher education leaders alike are looking for a way for workers to acquire the expertise needed for the jobs of tomorrow.

Apprenticeships are typically associated with Germany, but they are gaining steam in the U.S. After all, there are more than 500,000 Americans currently in apprenticeship programs that offer an alternative pathway to traditional higher education -- one that is capable of bridging the STEM talent gap.

What makes the apprenticeship model so effective is a mix of classroom instruction at a high school, college or university with on-the-job training. That combination is invaluable in a rapidly changing industrial community where extremely specific skill sets are required.

However, colleges, universities or employers interested in starting an apprenticeship program should be wary of simply copying the German model. The two countries’ education and training systems are too different. To be successful, the U.S. must adapt the German model. To be certain, this will require work and there may be some missteps along the way, but the long-term benefit is immense.

It used to be that coding and design software knowledge were skill sets mainly associated with office jobs. However, they’re now part and parcel of modern factory life. Because of the constant information stream from sensors in today’s smart factories and a frequent need to build precision devices, the skill sets of 2018 are far different than the industrial skill sets of 1988. Working in a smart factory requires highly specific and hard-to-obtain skills that demand both academic dexterity and long hours of on-the-job experience to master. In this environment, hands-on learning is no longer elective.

While high schools and colleges are making greater strides to integrate advanced STEM skills into curriculum, they can only train for careers in Industry 4.0 and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) to a certain point. Apprenticeships effectively bridge the gap in the education-to-career continuum by providing students the opportunity to be in the workplace mastering complicated, ever-evolving machinery and applying critical thinking to sophisticated manufacturing processes. In addition to these technical skills, apprenticeships also provide students with the opportunity to build soft skills and develop a professional work ethic that will serve them their entire careers.

Growing up in Germany, I saw firsthand how apprenticeships opened new career pathways for my friends. It’s why I’ve been excited to see the buzz around apprenticeships get louder in the U.S., first driven by organizations like the National Skills Coalition and Jobs for the Future, and more recently after President Trump called to expand apprenticeships.

Festo Didactic, a global provider of industrial education, is working to help colleges in the U.S. to create apprenticeships that draw from the German approach but are designed to work well in this country.

For example, in cooperation with several companies and Sinclair Community College, we helped create an apprenticeship program in Mason, Ohio, that focuses on mechatronics (electronics, mechanical systems and fluid systems). The program trains participants as automation specialists and maintenance, service and manufacturing technicians and has proven to be an effective addition to the education and training of the students involved.

As we initiated the program, we took baby steps, evaluating our approach along the way. We knew we didn’t want to do a copy and paste of the German model; instead we looked to lift the components that were the best fit for the apprentices and our partners and to modify the rest. The apprentices typically spend a few hours per day at a desk gaining foundational knowledge. Then they are tasked with applying that knowledge through hands-on exercises, becoming more familiar with the equipment and complex design engineering systems.

One of the most rewarding parts of the apprenticeship program is seeing the many ways it benefits the participants and educational institutions. Apprentices in the program are earning while they learn, and they’re already in a pipeline to a well-paying job with growth opportunities. The average worker in an advanced manufacturing role typically earns $60,000 to $90,000 annually, depending on experience. Equally as beneficial, Sinclair is able to give its students a leg up, and local employers are able to source and train the best talent in the tristate Cincinnati area.

The program in Ohio, and others across the country, are microcosms of the national potential of apprenticeships. The U.S. is rapidly converting to a new type of industrial economy where automation and workflow optimization mean that low-skill and even middle-skill factory jobs are disappearing. The jobs of today and tomorrow, those born out of IIoT and Industry 4.0 innovation, are more complex and require a new approach to training. It’s estimated there will be nine million new jobs in advanced manufacturing by 2022. Some of these jobs have yet to be invented. At the same time, the manufacturing industry often feels the full weight of the skills gap and unemployment challenges.

Apprenticeship models, which have been perfected in Germany over centuries, are one of the easiest ways to resolve that talent conundrum. Those of us who have been invested in this work know these work-force training programs are effective, practical solutions benefiting all involved. But it is time to connect the individual efforts across the country into a stronger network of programs. The interest, opportunity and need are all present -- and we have a template to follow from the Germans. Now it’s up to employers, government officials and education leaders to join forces to create an apprenticeship culture that is authentically American.

Author/s: 
Thomas Lichtenberger

Thomas Lichtenberger is CEO of Festo Didactic Inc., a global provider of equipment and solutions for industrial education.

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Engineer and apprentice with steel rolls
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MassArt Professor Retires Amid Title IX Investigation

Nicholas Nixon, a well-known professor of photography at Massachusetts College of Art and Design, retired this month amid allegations of inappropriate behavior, The Boston Globe reported. President David Nelson announced Nixon's departure in an email to students and faculty members last week, saying, “We take reports of any form of sexual harassment, inappropriate behavior or misconduct seriously” and that was Nixon was no longer in the classroom.

Nixon reportedly referred requests for comment to his attorney, Bruce A. Singal, who said in a statement that Nixon received notice of a college investigation “into reports that he allegedly made inappropriate comments in the presence of students and staff members.” Singal said Nixon is “widely known for a provocative teaching style in a creative art school environment that he believed was inspiring to his students” and that “we hope the investigation can be completed before any conclusions are drawn.”

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SUNY Binghamton engineering professor offends by asking about "white" engineering society in response to email from black students' group

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SUNY Binghamton engineering professor offends many by asking about a “white” engineering society in response to an email from a black students’ group.

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