Within STEM fields, employers are reporting a widening gap in the workforce readiness of new graduates. As departments continue to be squeezed with new requirements, chasing the latest technologies and scientific developments and constrained budgets, formal undergraduate programs struggle to fully prepare students for the workforce. One major mechanisms to address gaps within formal education is in life-long learning. Most technical and professional fields have life-long learning requirements, but it is not common in the geosciences, as licensing requirements remain limited. By introducing the concept of career self-management and life-long learning into the formal education experience of students, we can build voluntary engagement and shift some of the preparation burden from existing degree programs. The Geoscience Online Learning Initiative (GOLI) seeks to extend professional life-long learning into the formal education realm. By utilizing proven, effective means to capture expert knowledge, the GOLI program constructs courses in the OpenEdX platform, where the content authors and society staff continuously refine the material into effective one- to two-hour long asynchronous modules. The topical focus of these courses are outside of the usual scope of the academic curriculum, but are aligned with applied technical or professional issues. These courses are provided as open education resources, but also qualify for CEUs as the ongoing professional microcredential in the profession. This way, interested faculty can utilize these resources as focused modules in their own course offerings or students can engage in the courses independently and upon passing the assessments and paying of a nominal fee, be awarded CEUs which count towards their professional qualifications. Establishing a continuum of learning over ones career is a critical cultural change needed for students to succeed and be resilient through the duration of a career. We will examine how this approach mimics successful efforts in other STEM fields and where it aligns with both ongoing evolution in professional geoscience employment and broader trends in STEM career management.
- American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting 2017