Sunday, September 18, 2011

Texas Businesses to mold degrees of Texas online College

From The American Independent

Later this month, officials with Western Governors University will announce new details about the nonprofit online college’s Texas chapter, a sub-university created in August with a wave of Gov. Rick Perry’s pen. With self-paced degree programs that let students earn credits as fast as they can for under $6,000 a year, WGU’s expansion in Texas could help boost those stats — especially since its target students are adults walking around with some college credits but no degree.

Texas actually had a similar arrangement with WGU in 2010, one that predated the announcement from Perry — a half-million dollar Texas Workforce Commission program that trained 64 students in nursing and related fields. According to Workforce Commission spokesman Mark Lavergne, the state paid WGU to develop the Multi-state Approach for Preparation of Registered Nurses program, which includes online education and live training in Dallas, Houston, Brownsville and El Paso. Lavergne said the deal ended September 2010, with students going on to take the state nursing board exams.

Degrees shaped by business leaders

Jenkins and WGU prefer to describe the school’s education style as “competency-based” rather than “vocational,” but its degree programs — its biggest are in teaching, nursing, business and information technology — are about arming students with the specific set of skills they’ll need for a job. Jenkins said partnerships in the Texas business community will help tailor their degrees to the state’s hiring needs.

To shape their degree programs, “we go out to business and industry in the field. If you’re getting a bachelor’s degree in IT security, what do you need to be able to do?” Jenkins said. “We work with those experts and walk that backwards thru the degree program.”

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