BOG explores experiential learning

Emily Sikes speaking during presentation. Photo courtesy: the Florida Channel

The Florida Board of Governors’ Task Force on Academic and Workforce Alignment met Wednesday. The committee discussion was the first on the agenda for their second day of meetings at Florida A&M University.

BOG member Ken Jones, chair of the task force, opened it with a roll call to determine if they had a quorum. They needed four governors in order to achieve a quorum and were unable to do so.

The meeting discussed recommendations from the task force on ways to guide students and employers on experiential learning and an overview of the different advisory boards within the state system.

Emily Sikes, the BOG’s assistant vice chancellor for strategic and economic development, provided a presentation on the two topics. She went into the details of experiential learning and how the task force selected two groups that were composed of faculty and staff across the system.

“I’d like to remind the task force that we were working to develop recommendations and what we learned from experiential learning. So most of us are familiar with internships, but there are more types of experiential learning,” Sikes said.

She outlined seven different types of experiential learning categories.

Among the seven were creative, innovative and entrepreneurial projects, undergraduate research, global or sociocultural learning, internships, career and professional experiences, leadership and community-based learning.

Sikes provided details for each one and mentioned examples of how universities across the state system implemented them.

Under the career and professional experiences example, Sikes explained FAMU’s partnership with Google in the Google HBCU Career and Readiness Program.

“The FAMU program provides digital skills, training and career workshops that can lead to certifications that students can use to demonstrate to employers that they are ready to work,” she said.

Sikes also mentioned programs at various other schools like the University of South Florida, the University of West Florida, Florida International University and the University of Central Florida.

For the second portion of her presentation, Sikes gave an overview of the system guidance on advisory councils and the effective partnerships with businesses throughout the state.

It touched on how the different advisory boards could improve and the best practices that institutions can use for their partnerships. Some of the methods include creating a better relationship with employers, adding those from these partnerships to the advisory boards and ways that the boards can make changes to the curriculum to ensure that students are on trend and ready and prepared to enter the workforce.

Once her presentation was over, Jones asked if there were any questions or comments from other board members or university presidents. Neither group had anything to add and Jones began to end the meeting by giving thanks to  BOG Vice Chairmen Eric Silagy.

“I’d like to say first of all thank you to chair Silagy who started this effort several years ago. And you know it’s very important that we think about that interaction between employers and students and how we can align curriculums and outcomes to the needs of employers in the modern workforce,” he said.

Jones said this is something that they will continue to focus on even though things will slow down for the task force and that the recommendations made will be used for “many many years and will become systemic parts of how we think about educating students.”

Silagy also weighed in.  “This is near and dear to my heart,” he said.  “All the work the universities have done to implement these programs, it really does make a huge difference and this is the kind of change that really leads to opportunities for the graduates to end up with very fulfilling opportunities as soon as they finish their studies.”

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