Spanning The Skills Gap: Teaching Students To Effectively Communicate Their Learning Experiences And Levels Of Workforce Development Skills To Foster Career Success

Concurrent Session 2
Streamed Session OLC Session

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Brief Abstract

Can students communicate effectively about their learning experiences and levels of workforce skill development to propel them to succeed as new professionals?  This education session provides insights into one of the key findings of a workforce skills development study conducted through a partnership between the OLC and HP.  The findings highlighted the potential for learning analytics and teaching students to communicate their learning experiences and levels of workforce skill development to foster career and personal success.

 

Presenters

Dr. Abby McGuire serves as the Director of Research at the Online Learning Consortium where she supports the OLC’s research efforts and advances the reach and impact of the OLC’s Research Center. Abby collaborates with scholars, practitioners, OLC team members, and external partners to design and implement initiatives and publish research that advances online, blended, and digital teaching and learning. Abby loves creating and sharing ideas to deepen understanding and shift perspectives about teaching and learning. She is a bold, creative thinker and educational leader with professional writing, editing, and consulting expertise, and she is a higher education professional with more than a decade of experience in administrative and faculty roles. Abby holds a Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership and a Master of Arts in English Composition and Communication from Central Michigan University.
Dr. Nicole Weber is the Assistant Vice President (AVP) of Learning at the Online Learning Consortium (OLC). In this role she works closely with OLC staff and global partners to advance professional development opportunities, continuous improvement efforts, and research in support of quality digital, blended, and online learning. Before joining OLC, she served as the Director of Learning Technology at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater where she led online and blended faculty development efforts, technology training for the digital learning ecosystem, and emerging learning technology exploration and evaluation, collaborating across the institution to support student learning and success. Nicole received her PhD in Urban Education specializing in Social Foundations of Education with an emphasis on designing engaging learning environments in 2012.

Extended Abstract

Can students communicate effectively about their learning experiences and levels of workforce skill development to propel them to succeed as new professionals?  The OLC partnered with HP to conduct a qualitative study examining workforce skill development trends in higher education during the Summer of 2021.  The purpose of this study was to examine whether, or to what extent, institutions are using workforce trends to align and measure learning outcomes and help students communicate their levels of workplace skill proficiencies to potential employers. This education session provides participants insights into one of the key findings of the study, illuminating information about the skills gap. The findings of this study highlight the importance of teaching students to communicate their learning experiences and levels of workforce skill development to foster career success.

While the measurement of learning outcomes grounded in the measurement of workforce skills is a conversation item and action item that is happening on the backend among administrators, program directors, and faculty, a gap exists.  Administrators, program directors, and faculty are much less likely to engage in conversations and actions through front-facing, student-facing channels.  

Many participants reflected that this is an important gap they had not considered before.  This study data cracks open the door for learning analytics and its place in higher education.  With learning analytics’ focus on engaging students and all stakeholders in the data story, perhaps institutions can create collaborative efforts among stakeholders with institutional actors, including institutional researchers, instructional designers, instructional technologists, as well as with administrators, program directors, and faculty.