Friday, August 07, 2009

Interview with Michael Platt on Career Colleges: Innovators in E-Learning Series

Career colleges are experiencing dramatic growth, primarily because they connect directly to the workforce, where learners can train to enter new jobs and careers. Their lives are transformed by their education, and their goals. Welcome to an interview with Michael Platt, PlattForm Advertising.

1. What is your name and what is your involvement with e-learning?

Michael Platt. I have been providing admissions support in the form of lead-generation, lead-management and admissions training, for as long as e-learning has been a significant delivery model, having worked with UOP (University of Phoenix) back in the 90’s.

2. What has your involvement been with career colleges?

My company, PlattForm Advertising, is the largest full-service marketing, advertising and public-relations firm in the sector.

3. How would you define "career college"?

Any school that offers programs taught by industry professionals and focused on the practical knowledge necessary to perform in the workplace.

4. What are some of the standards that career colleges are required to follow? For example, what must they do with respect to graduation rates, student success, and job placement?

Career Colleges, unlike other schools, must meet standards of job placement within the field of study, graduation rates, repayment of loan rates and a certain percentage of their revenue must come from cash, not Title IV funds. These are just a few of the many standards that are required by the DOE, States and Accrediting Bodies. While the DOE controls Title IV-based regulations, each state has its own governing board with distinct, state-by-state rules and regulations. Additionally, Regional Accrediting organizations like SACS and WACS in addition to National Accrediting organizations like ACCSCT, ACICS, ABHES, ACCETT and COE, have THEIR own rules and regulations. It is a major roadmap of rules and regulations that Career Colleges must navigate on a daily basis.

5. Please describe the work you have done in the area of education for "green jobs" or green technology and sustainable business?

This is all brand new, but I personally know of at least a dozen school groups currently working on new curriculum in these areas, both for design, development and maintenance.

6. In your opinion, within the realm of "green jobs," where will the highest growth occur?

Deployment and maintenance. There is a lot of focus on design at the traditional university level, but it will be Career Colleges that train those that will produce, install and maintain the equipment.

7. How do you approach e-learning when it is a skills-based, hands-on field? Do you advocate the use of interactive virtual worlds (such as Second Life), simulations, or "serious games"? Do you encourage the development of preceptorships, as are used in nursing?

In addition to externship components, the most successful model I have seen in using e-delivery of traditionally hands-on education, is to include a capstone event to serve as a final, hands-on component and proving ground. Also, many schools use video and asynchronous delivery models to create more of that hands-on or classroom feel for the students.

8. What do you see as the most important foundational skills for e-learners who are thinking about a program at a career college?

It is about the commitment and what to do when doubt sets in. There are terrific programs out there like the Pacific Institute who provides a curriculum, “Thought Patterns for a Successful Career,” that helps students understand how the mind works as it relates to goals, fear, attitude, accountability, and vision.

Note: Free download of pdf of e-Learner Survival Guide.

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