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National review of workplace-based digital learning programs


The Workforce Board contracted with the Social and Economic Sciences Research Center (SESRC) at Washington State University to identify and evaluate current national private employer workplace-based digital learning--programs with electronically distributed learning components--provided by public and private colleges and universities.

In this exploratory assessment, the SESRC identified and reviewed literature and contacted practitioners who are involved with workplace-based education and training programs. The SESRC specifically looked for programs that are connected to a public or private college or university, and have electronically distributed components (including either web based/online and non-web based such as DVD, software, etc.). The Workforce Board provided coordination, consultation, and liaison services to facilitate the exploratory assessment.

In the full report, the SESRC identifies several “key strategies” for program success that emerged from its review of case studies and conversations with program managers.  These strategies are part of what might become the “best practices” for workplace-based education programs with a college connection .

Key Strategies for Workplace-Based Education Program Success

  1. Strengthen the community college position to reach out to the low wage/lower skilled workers.
  2. Integrate remediation, basic skills development and ESL into the postsecondary curriculum.
  3. Obtain “buy-in” from the top down at both the college and the employer company or organization.
  4. Build a solid partnership between the college and the employer company or organization.
  5. Develop workplace-based education programs with a work-based learning approach.
  6. Involve college faculty members in the design and implementation of the workplace-based education programs.
  7. Incorporate on-site supervisors or “faculty extenders” as instructors in the workplace.
  8. Provide academic mentors for low wage/lower skilled workers.
  9. Connect low wage/lower skilled workers to community organizations, social services, and public health resources.
  10. Provide an incentive hierarchy for the workers progressing through the program.
  11. Use E-Learning and other electronic components to enhance or facilitate the learning process for low wage/low skilled worker education programs.
  12. Allow ample time at the outset for planning and design phase of workplace-based education programs
  13. Accommodate unique aspects of various work settings in program design.
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