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Ask these 3 questions to design student-centric credentials

September 27, 2018

Colleges and universities must launch and revitalize programs at an exhausting pace in response to ambitious growth goals. COE teams are tasked to launch or redesign as many as ten programs a year.

COE leadership needs to ask the right questions during program launch and redesign to ensure they’re successfully serving the students they hope to enroll. Consider these three questions to encourage program completion and reduce future headaches for COE teams.

1. Are our programs teaching the right content?

Program leadership needs to get the content right if they’re going to offer a program worth students’ investment of money and time. Poorly designed programs risk offering content that doesn’t match student needs. Programs with outdated curricula or that emphasize theory when practical application is required will fail to attract and retain students.

To make sure your programs offer the right content, consider:

  • In-demand skills for post-graduate success
  • Possible specializations for a competitive edge
  • Experiential opportunities to learn this content and demonstrate mastery

2. Are programs structured correctly?

Correct program structure considers what outcomes and program experience students want, which means the right structure varies by audience. The trade-off between awarded credential and program intensity and time should also be considered.

For example, a student who needs a refresh on technical skills to match today’s tools may require only a weekend workshop. Conversely, an employer may expect a professional changing fields to have completed a formal credential in her new field, requiring a career changer to complete a master’s while transitioning industries.

Use these considerations to structure a program correctly:

  • What matters most to relevant employers—skill development or completion of a recognized credential
  • COE students’ need to balance responsibilities outside of classes
  • Pathways and stackability aligned to students’ next career step, continued career journeys, and lifelong learning

3. Are we providing the right resources?

Misaligned resources risk wasting scarce funding. Programs could overinvest in irrelevant tools or costly instructors that may not support students’ desired outcomes. Similarly, program investments would be wasted if program design failed to address essential skill development, such as any required field-specific software, or if instructors lacked expertise.

Program leadership will need to consider which resources enable the right content to be taught and in the correct structure.

To determine required resources, be sure to evaluate:

  • Benefits from course instructors who are full-time academics vs. industry leaders
  • Required learning spaces (e.g., laboratory, on-site classroom, simulation site)
  • Specialized technical tools (e.g., hardware, software)

Want to learn more about student-centric program design?

Watch our “Credentials for an Unpredictable Market” webconference to learn more about alternative and short-format credentials and which offerings to target to specific audience segments.

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