Let’s face it; many high school faculty members are overloaded with teaching core courses, so the thought of adding new curricula often brings a cringe to their faces and the beginnings of a migraine headache. What if high schools could offer new and exciting coursework without the cringing or the headaches? What if high school faculty didn’t even need to teach the content? What if all the resources (lectures, reading assignments, exams, etc.) were already available? What if students could take courses for both high school and college credit? What if it didn’t cost students money?
In spring 2017, the UAS Fisheries Technology program reinvented a way to offer courses that are:
Engaging and technology-based,
Use the latest educational pedagogy, and
Can be delivered directly into the high school classroom with no internet required.
These courses were initially created for distribution on university supplied Apple iPads, but have since been finding their ways into many high schools throughout the state. Imagine “beaming” a college instructor directly into a high school classroom where the on-site high school faculty member is doing little more than facilitating progress through the course and fostering discussion points.
Throughout the course of our daily lives we depend on the skills and services of others. From bookkeepers, nursing aides, and security personnel to welders, small engine repair, and heavy equipment mechanics, Alaska thrives when there is a dedicated workforce that serves our communities.
You may be surprised to learn that these jobs require some form of post-secondary training, which can be earned through the University of Alaska (UA), now at a reduced tuition rate.
UA is cutting tuition on select occupational programs and career and technical education (CTE) courses by 25 percent. The discount applies to 50 programs and more than 300 courses at all three universities including community campuses. Eligible programs range from pharmacy technology to welding and mine mechanics; many courses can be taken online to accommodate employed Alaskans looking to refresh skills or embark on a new career.
The university is the No. 1 provider of workforce development programs in the state, and training a skilled workforce to meet the state’s needs is one of UA’s top goals. While UA’s tuition is low compared to peer universities in the western United States, its tuition for CTE programs has been considered to be high compared to community college systems Outside.
“It’s (the middle of) summer, but students seeking higher education are making plans for fall. The university’s new Alaska College of Education aims to train more state residents to take teaching jobs here. The idea is to keep good teachers in rural Alaska communities.”
So began a round-robin discussion on July 24, when President Jim Johnsen and College of Education Executive Dean Steve Atwater joined host Lori Townsend on Alaska Public Radio Network’s Talk of Alaska to discuss the university’s goal to recruit and educate more teachers. The discussion also included Kameron Perez-Verdia, president/CEO of Alaska Humanities Forum.
“What precipitated [the Alaska College of Education] was the regents’ recognition that this is a critically important issue and our challenges…You are looking at the single most important job in our state,” Johnsen said.
Alaska faces a range of obstacles as the university endeavors to educate more Alaska teachers. Currently 70 percent of teachers hired each year for Alaska school districts come from outside the state and turnover, especially in rural Alaska, is as high as 50 percent annually. Teachers who come to rural Alaska from outside the state are often unprepared to understand cultural differences and infrastructure challenges, and the effects of decades of trauma from forced assimilation and abuse of Alaska Native students in schools are still present. The effects of these obstacles are costly, both in the financial cost of constant teacher recruitment and the impact to students who witness teachers regularly cycling in and out of their schools.
The University of Alaska (UA) has been collaborating with maritime industry representatives, state agencies, legislators and other training entities across the state since 2012 on the Fishing, Seafood and Maritime Initiative (FSMI). The goal of the initiative is to assess, develop and deliver training programs, raise awareness and further research to prepare Alaskans to meet current and emerging workforce, economic and scientific needs.
The FSMI Spring Update was released in May. Read the full report here.
As the primary provider of the state’s skilled workforce, the University of Alaska is identifying more affordable ways to educate Alaskans. Alaskans often think of our state as a place where we can secure a good-paying job without higher education credentials or certifications, but that’s less and less often the case. By 2025, 65 percent of jobs in Alaska will require some post-secondary credential. Alaska’s economy is changing and so is its university.
We’re starting with the career and technical education opportunities available through the university for those looking for a job as a welder, a nurse aide, a corrections officer, to refine bookkeeping or basic carpentry skills or to fill other critical positions in Alaska communities. The University of Alaska’s occupational endorsement programs are specifically designed to provide these skill-building courses.
To make these training opportunities more accessible and affordable, beginning in fall 2018, the university will reduce tuition by 25 percent in selected occupational endorsement programs and career and technical education courses. The tuition reduction will apply to more than 300 courses in 50 programs at the University of Alaska Anchorage, University of Alaska Fairbanks, and University of Alaska Southeast, including community campuses. Open registration for fall 2018 began April 16 and continues throughout the summer. The reduced tuition is part of the university’s plan to meet Alaska’s workforce needs by growing enrollment and increasing degree completion.
Read the full article here. Learn more about the tuition reduction here.