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Sunday, 19 July 2015

SUNY Broome MOOC targets workforce gap

When her mother had a stroke in 2013 and lost the use of her left side, Kelli Ligeikis struggled with the best ways to help her.
“Not knowing anything about how to care for her, trying to help her with the littlest of things because she was in a wheelchair — like just to get her dressed and to the bathroom — were huge,” she said. “There are so many of these stories.”
People in similar situations, or those exploring the idea of a career as a home health aide, now can get some free education through SUNY Broome’s new Foundations for Assisting Home Care massive open online course, or MOOC.
MOOCs often include a mix of lectures, readings, online discussions and quizzes, much like traditional college courses. But most MOOCs offered by colleges are free and open to anybody with an Internet connection.
Foundations for Assisting Home Care is SUNY Broome’s first MOOC, and it is designed to introduce people to the basic knowledge and skill competencies required of home health and personal care aides, said Erin O’Hara-Leslie, an instructor at the college and its chairwoman for Medical Assisting and Health Studies.
Though the course doesn’t count toward any certifications in the field, O’Hara-Leslie said it allows students to see what a job in home healthcare entails. It also can be useful to those, such as Ligeikis, who would simply like to learn about caring for a loved one in the comfort of their own home, she said.
The college designed the course to address a need in the area workforce, said the former SUNY Broome administrator who proposed the class.
Andrea Wade, now the provost at Monroe Community College in Rochester, was chairwoman of the Southern Tier Regional Economic Development Council’s healthcare workgroup in 2012, when the group wanted to strengthen the pipeline of healthcare workers at all levels.
She said that the group was primarily concerned with the huge need for entry-level home heathcare workers, where there was and is still a huge need with the combination of high worker turn-over and an aging population.
“I thought: how can we use what is beneficial to students in online learning — access — to help connect them with this workforce need?” Wade said.
At the time, Wade was associate vice president and dean of distance education and health sciences at SUNY Broome, so she thought a MOOC could be part of a solution.
Wade remains involved with the SUNY Broome course, which now has more than 500 registered learners from more than 85 countries.
The course started June 29 and ends Sept. 20. It includes video demonstrations of basic home healthcare skills, text with images, and a variety of interactive exercises such as short quizzes, matching and drag-and-drop activities, O’Hara-Leslie said.
Recently, the college received a $20,000 Innovative Instruction Technology Grant to convert it into an on-demand format, O’Hara-Leslie said.
“That means people can register anytime and complete it at anytime,” O’Hara-Leslie said, “It will be like Netflix.”
She said that with the grant money, the college is creating a companion textbook and recruitment and referral resources for the course.
The course is based on the state curriculum for a career in home healthcare, O’Hara-Leslie said. SUNY Broome also plans to work with Allied Health to provide resources for people seeking a certification in home healthcare, she said.
“When people see this and realize it is what they would like to do as a career, it will direct them where to go,” she said.
People still can register for the course, but must catch up on the first several weeks of work and finish by the Sept. 20 end date. The course is available athttps://www.coursera.org/course/hha.
Follow Shannon Hazlitt on Twitter @ShanHazlitt

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