The National Science Foundation (NSF) recently awarded a grant for $199,996 to support the HOME4TECHS program at Northwest State Community College. The program supports development of new methods for teaching and verifying competencies in industrial technology related fields.
The two year grant will assist NSCC in designing curriculum with a hybrid approach of using online learning in partnership with open labs where students can complete skill competencies and testing on their own schedule.
This new learning format will allow students to continue working while increasing their knowledge and skills to meet the demands of local industries. “Companies are seeing tremendous turnover due to retirement, and this number is expected to grow in the next five years,” said Tom Wylie, associate vice president of special projects at NSCC and lead of the HOME4TECHS program. “This new learning concept will allow individuals to continue to work while at the same time building the skills and knowledge needed to support growth. Improved access means more than convenience; it means students can work at their own pace.”
The programs are being designed to include online “classroom” work along with an open lab that would allow students to come in and out based on their schedule and work on specific hands-on skills competencies that are a part of their particular program. An instructor will be on site to assist students as they work to master the skills needed to pass industry-specific competency testing.
“HOME4TECHS will significantly improve accessibility to education,” said Wylie. “Many students cannot afford to quit their full-time job pursue education. This concept will allow students to keep working while at the same time creating opportunities for future growth and opportunities.”