Dave Brunick and Jerry Hensel Create Accelerated, Flex-Paced Technical Certificate — Faculty Highlight


Left to right: Dave Brunick and Jerry Hensel

Higher education is undergoing a transformation from the traditional model of teaching. Many institutions are implementing some form of accelerated, flex-paced or competency-based education.

faculty-insight-news-idKeeping pace with this trend, Valencia’s East Campus Professors of Computer Programming and Analysis Dave Brunick and Jerry Hensel have created a three-course, nine-credit, accelerated, flex-paced sequence of courses, which have been approved as a technical certificate by the Florida Department of Education.

“Instead of a time-bound approach to learning, students can create flexible schedules where they determine when and how they learn. And while the three courses can and should be completed in one semester — though students have the flexibility of taking all of the courses at once, any two together or one after the other — students have the option of progressing through the course according to their abilities,” said Dave.

The courses are all credit courses that are part of the Associate in Science in computer information technology and offered concurrently through Valencia Continuing Education. The program is not competency based and reflects but one model on the flex-paced continuum. Work in this area has been funded by a small grant from Western Governors’ University.

“Students are given flexibility in making their own schedules. This option really resonates with them and helps improve the student experience,” said Dave. “For example, there was a student who was able to complete one course in six weeks and others who were able to take the entire semester to complete the course. The flexibility helps students plan their coursework with life events that might come their way.”

Based on the report from Diane Meiller and Associates (2013), online and hybrid courses at Valencia do not provide a consistent navigation or educational experience to students. Moreover, data provided by institutional research indicates a success gap and a withdrawal gap between online, hybrid and face-to-face courses.

“In response to this data, the three courses that were chosen for this project were designed the same way so that students who take them will have a more consistent online and hybrid course navigation experience and will therefore experience less frustration and spend more time on learning, Jerry explained. “In designing the course, faculty met weekly with instructional designers to make sure the students would have a seamless online experience.”

Upon completing a program, which is delivered in one of these formats, students will be able to demonstrate knowledge in a specified set of knowledge, skills or performance indicators.

“Although we have not evaluated student data as to success rate and other metrics, we consider this project a success simply from the work we have done to create a common course theme and progression that can be applied to any online course,” said Jerry.

Being on the cutting edge of new teaching trends that are having an impact on higher education is of great importance. In addition, both of the professors relish that this opportunity provided a chance for them to expand their roles as educators. Besides being teachers, they each are also mentors, advisors and course facilitators.

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