Workgroup No. 8 discusses program presentations

Analicia Haynes, Online Editor

The master’s degree for special education, which is no longer being considered for deletion or consolidation, gave a presentation on its new online program to members of Workgroup no. 8.

The financial literacy program was another program that presented to the workgroup.

The workgroup also set the date for a town hall-style meeting, which will be from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 2 in the Grand Ballroom of the Martin Luther King Jr. University Union.

Kathlene Shank, the chair of the special education program, spoke on behalf of the master’s degree in special education, saying it could fall under the new or modified program objective.

Shank brought two handouts for members consisting of information about the program, which will be launched as an online degree starting in the fall semester.

She said the department has been progressing toward putting its master’s degree program online since Fall 2014 and there were several steps involved with getting the program up and running.

The program is fully accredited.

The first step was to take all of the courses at the master’s level and realign the courses, syllabi, assessments and assessment rubrics to the national standards for special education.

After that, Shank said the faculty went to the Online Course Development Institute to learn how to do online instruction.

According to the handout, three graduate faculty members have completed OCDi training, and one will complete it by May 2017.

The faculty member will then offer the course, which will be in development, starting the summer of 2017. Students are already enrolled in the summer class.

A fifth graduate faculty member is also completing the training, which will result in five out of seven graduate faculty members available to teach online in the fall.

Twelve courses are needed for the program.

“When you leave an undergraduate program, you don’t know enough to do what you need for every kid in your classroom, so we’d like to make a difference out there to have better-prepared special educators and give them a choice to do that,” she said.

Workgroup Chair Jeff Stowell asked if the program will take three years to complete.

Shank said it depends on the student and what degree or licensure they wish to pursue.

Students will have the choice to either earn an advanced licensure, or an LBSII, to become a curriculum adaptation specialist or a behavior intervention specialist, be in a pure master’s program, or, if they already have their master’s, become a director of special education.

“Our plan right now is to get out there, get emails out there and let our former students know what we’re doing,” Shank said.

However, she said marketing could be a challenge because of a lack of money.

Shank said she hopes the workgroup will take into consideration the help the program needs to do this.

Britto Nathan, a biological sciences professor, asked if Shank communicated this program with the other workgroups, particularly Workgroup no. 7, which looked at Academic Programs.

Shank said they did and they also communicated with Eastern President David Glassman.

“I think some of this is my fault,” Shank said in response to the master’s program originally being considered for deletion or consolidation. “I didn’t realize that people didn’t know that we had already done eight of 12 courses…I don’t think anybody had a sense of how far we had gone and what we were doing.”

However, Nathan said Shank’s request to the workgroup is very simple and he thinks the workgroup can easily put the program on its list for new and modified programs.

Shank said there are two steps left for the program to be fully online.

One includes taking the final courses to the Illinois Board of Education to see what other kinds of paperwork the department needs to work on.

Stowell told Shank that the Higher Learning Commission does not care if the program goes online, though he is not sure about the Illinois Board of Education.

“Because it’s online, quality will not diminish, rigor is still a part of what we are,” Shank said. “If you know special education educators at all you know they’re all overachievers.”

Workgroup members also listened to a presentation about the new financial literacy curriculum that was launched last fall by Linda Simpson, a family and consumer sciences professor.

At the last Workgroup meeting, members discussed a proposal from Erin Brown in the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships that called for a micro-degree in financial literacy.

Amy Rosenstein, a special education professor, said the discussion last week was focused on where the proposed program would fit in their objectives.

Since it is already a part of Simpson’s department, Rosenstein asked Simpson if the issue now is where to go from there.

Simpson provided members with a packet of detailed information regarding the financial literacy curriculum, which consists of a minor, a concentration within FCS and a minor and where the nation expects the program to be at.

Simpson said the curriculum can go beyond just a concentration and minor and could be designed as one of the four objectives the workgroup has, such as a modified or signature program.

The topic emerged from the vitalization project, but Simpson said it has not gained traction despite being a hot topic on both the state and national levels.

Simpson said the curriculum is interdisciplinary, so any student in any department can minor in it and it offers online opportunities.

“The curriculum focuses on understanding the relationships between family development and family finances, with the goal of learning to guide families in sound financial decision-making across their life span to enhance personal money management skills,” Simpson said.

The Literacy in Financial Education Center also works as a place to support the program and students, Simpson said.

“We offer internships, graduate assistantships, outreach, research opportunities, so all of that is in place to support students who might be in this program,” Simpson said.

Simpson said since it is new, there are not as many students taking part in the curriculum, but if there is enough traction they can get there.

“If we include the School of Business, the Counseling Center and everybody comes to the table with some ideas, we could even repackage it a little bit to expand it,” Simpson said. “This has a significant possibility to bring students here.”

Rosenstein said the proposal last week was for the program to be one that was accessible or potentially required of everybody.

She asked Simpson how the program would be structured in a way where everybody has to take it.

Simpson said it is possible if they had the proper resources.

As for a target market, Simpson said the program could attract students seeking a background in financial literacy who want to return to their communities to make a difference.

“They come here…then go back to their communities and work in social agencies and things like that so I really think we have a target that attract students here,” Simpson said.

Simpson said these students have a skill set and life experiences that are beneficial in working with people in their communities by helping with overall money management.

This could reduce the chances of fraud or debt and it empowers communities, she added.

Analicia Haynes can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]