How online universities can shrink the skills gap with human connections

Constant interaction with technology often leaves people looking for ways to disconnect from their devices and reconnect with humans. When it comes to the future of work, this is welcomed news.

While technology may seem to consume us at times, whether personally or professionally, the jobs of the future will actually place more value on how well you interact with other people, not with technology. It is the skills that make us uniquely human that will be the most in-demand in the future job market, such as leadership, effective communication, and management.

Related content: Here’s what online programs do right–and what they can improve

There is real concern that in certain industries, automation will replace jobs that were once filled by humans. There is also a national conversation around the skills gap, or the discrepancy between the skills U.S. workers have and the skills required by U.S. businesses to remain globally competitive, and the fact that the future workforce may not be prepared for what’s to come.

Moreover, soon, one-third of students expect to study online, which presents a unique challenge for online higher-ed institutions. Consider these four strategies that student-centered online universities are following to keep human connection strong and support better workforce development.

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Here’s how online courseware boosts student engagement

Universities nationwide are facing the same challenge: how to make textbooks more relevant, meaningful and engaging for students. This problem has grown as the lack of student engagement—especially among general education classes—continues to be a contributing factor to today’s rapidly declining RPG (retention, progression, and graduation) rates.

For Kennesaw State University (KSU) in Georgia, educators were working to overcome this same obstacle while experiencing rather high DWFI (D, fail, withdraw, incomplete) rates in one of its institutional requirements, WELL 1000L Foundations for Healthy Living. Students were not successfully completing this required course, which could jeopardize their college careers.

Related content: 10 suggestions for smarter online course design

With a desire to lower the DFWI rate without compromising the academic integrity of the course, KSU faculty and staff decided to alter the WELL 1000 objectives while also replacing the textbook with online courseware that equipped students with more emerging technologies to help boost student engagement.

The implementation process

In the redesigned WELL 1000 course, KSU desired to offer a more holistic approach focused on goal-setting and building self-assessments and reflections to establish long-term health behaviors. This required a number of content progressions as well as a process to better identify and support at-risk students.

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