Forsyth Tech Piloting Learning On-Demand Model In
Fall Bioscience Classes
Format Designed to Reduce Barriers and Increase Convenience for Students
(Winston-Salem, NC) – This fall, Forsyth Tech will introduce a unique, custom-designed Learning On-Demand (LOD) format into its biosciences courses that will allow students to participate in academic and lab instruction as their schedules allow.
The LOD concept features two components: expertly designed online learning tools and a state-of-the-art Science Skills Learning Laboratory (SSLL) that will be open for extended hours.
This model is the brainchild of Michael V. Ayers, dean of Math, Science and Technologies at Forsyth Tech, an experienced biology instructor.
“The new format is a major improvement over traditional hybrid courses that lock students into specific days and times to work in the laboratory,” Ayers states. “It is much more effective than offering strictly online courses that deny students access to scientific equipment used in modern laboratories. This format will open new doors for many science students. It provides a new way for delivering lab instruction.”
Each course will have online learning components that students can access wherever they have internet access. The online components are designed by faculty experts and a team of instructional designers who have incorporated into the model advanced learning technologies and practical applications of adult learning theories.
“Once students have mastered concepts using the online materials, they will be ready to visit the SSLL to complete hands-on activities and assessments,” Ayers adds.
The coursework requires that students spend approximately three hours a week on laboratory activities and assessments, according to Ayers. Lab times are flexible and will often be available on a drop-in basis to accommodate students whose schedules change from week to week.
The SSLL, located in the Technology Building on the college’s Main Campus, will be open and fully staffed from 7 am – 10 pm, Monday through Thursday, and from 7 am – 5 pm on Friday during the fall and spring semesters. Instructors will be on hand to assist students in completing the laboratory requirements of their coursework and administer assessments.
Forsyth Tech is piloting this LOD model in its fall 2013 and spring 2014 biology, chemistry and biotechnology courses.
“I believe this model will be so successful that it will become the norm in bioscience education,” says Ayers.
The SSLL, instructional design team, and laboratory staff are being funded by a $15 million U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) grant that Forsyth Tech was awarded last October to lead a national effort to develop and expand workforce training across the $100 billion biosciences industry.
Forsyth Tech and the National Center for the Biotechnology Workforce, a BioNetwork Center, are implementing the three-year $15 million grant through the DOL’s Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College Career Training (TAACCCT) program.
The TAACCCT grant has established the Community College Consortium for Biosciences Credentials, a national partnership consisting of:
- 12 community colleges from across the nation, including Forsyth Tech, the Consortium Leader
- National Science Foundation Advanced Technological Education’s BIO-LINK center
- National Science Foundation Advanced Technological Education’s North East Biomanufacturing Consortium
- Major industry employers
Workforce boards and organizations from around the country