ROHNERT PARK -- Sonoma State University is expanding its professional development and extended education offerings to include a number of new certificate programs tailored for those seeking alternative career paths or to acquire additional skills in existing jobs.
[caption id="attachment_39264" align="alignleft" width="176" caption="Andrew Rogerson, provost and vice president of academic affairs at Sonoma State University"][/caption]
“SSU’s academic plan is to be a premier liberal arts and science focused university to ensure our students receive have a broad-based education with sophisticated critical thinking skills so that graduates can quickly grasp what is needed by employers and learn on the job,” said Andrew Rogerson, the new provost and vice president of academic affairs at SSU.
“With unemployment at record levels, it is ironic that businesses still cannot find workers with the skill sets they need. Our task is to produce graduates who can meet employer expectations while also educating more students for less money using new cost-effective tools.”
Sonoma State is starting to explore hybrid online/classroom courses to make it easier and more affordable for students to access business-focused instruction.
While there is continuing demand for traditional business degrees at the bachelor’s and MBA levels, enrollment in economically-based certificate programs is up 15 to 20 percent, and there has been an increase of 35 percent across the board in non-credit areas.
[caption id="attachment_39265" align="alignright" width="220" caption="Mark Merickel, dean of the School of Extended Education at Sonoma State University"][/caption]
“Extended education is the entrepreneurial arm of Academic Affairs,” said Mark Merickel, Dean of the School of Extended Education at SSU. “We are working with a number of regional organizations to provide skills-based certificate programs for those entering the world of work as well as supplemental courseware designed to improve worker knowledge in the business sector.”
The goal of this initiative is to make SSU more nimble, flexible and adaptable to changing times and responsive to student and business needs.
According to Annemarie Brown, business manager in the School of Business and Economics, “Our vision is to be the educational nucleus of a thriving North Bay economy. We are actively looking at new ways of supporting the business community and those working in it. The School of Business is certainly on board with the new hybrid learning approach and alternative programs to expand the educational process.”
According to the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, the official accrediting commission for schools, course success should be based on learning outcomes, not the modality used in learning. As a result, there is a trend toward a hybrid mix of delivery systems including in-class and online instruction and independent study.
Today SSU is supporting the “Moodle Platform,” an open source program model for learning management.
[caption id="attachment_39266" align="alignleft" width="350" caption="Students studying at Sonoma State campus."][/caption]
As a result, SSU is beginning to move away from the historical model, based on seat time or filling chairs in classrooms, to embrace this new reality. This is also seen as a way to reduce campus infrastructure costs and to help keep course fees at reasonable levels.