We work closely with staff and faculty at the University of West Florida as well as with K12, higher education, corporate, non-profit and government-sector organizations. Through the incubation of ideas, testing and launching new products, processes and services we are able to focus on solving major challenges while generating new approaches, best practices and methods to move the needle in areas where new thinking can produce remarkable change.
In K12, we are designing new tools to support career education for elementary-aged students for Kuder, Inc. by working with partners at TEQGames at Universal Studios, teachers and students in Escambia and Santa Rosa County School District. Through legislative funding, we have launched “MyCareerShines” with middle school, high school, college and adult-aged students in Florida. Through our partners at the Florida Virtual Campus, we are also supporting ‘Virtual College Nights’ to support high school students throughout the entire state as they begin to plan their pathway to college.
In Higher Education, we are studying how to impact adult learners with some college experience and no degree, get them back to school and connected to jobs upon completion. Funded through the Florida legislature, Complete Florida headquarters located in our facility in downtown Pensacola serves as the hub to 14 institutions in Florida using a variety of innovative approaches to deliver higher education to students through distance learning, competency-based education, accelerated online and more. We have developed the model and are studying the adult learner to determine where we can engage more to support retention and completion. We are also studying how to scale online learning to make it more affordable to students throughout our state and have recently worked collaboratively with institutions all over Florida to produce a cost study to help us better understand. Our partners at Florida Virtual Campus have just completed a study of textbook affordability that also assists in better understanding the affordability story.
GOVERNMENT & NON-PROFIT SECTOR
In government and non-profit sectors, we have been working with the U.S. Navy to support re-imagining training for new sailors and strategies that may reduce time to the fleet but also interject the best in class training opportunities with best in class solutions. With Families First Network we are beginning to study issues supporting foster families and employees as well as planning innovative new ways to hardwire case planning practices into everyday performance. We are also beginning to work with Habitat for Humanity to support employees and volunteers as they gain a clear pathway to meet their mission.
In the Corporate sector we conducted a thorough evaluation study with Carnival Cruise Line’s new CSMART facility in Almere, Netherlands. Their work to deliver high quality professional maritime training includes state of the art instructional tools and simulators to support professional ongoing training for bridge crew and engineering crew worldwide.
Our community-based outreach initiatives range from in-house, in-person efforts to an online, global reach. We’ve hosted many “CoderDojos” at the Institute. It’s been a great way to introduce kids between the ages of 7 and 17 to the world of computer and app programming. Our Cyber Seniors program has helped senior citizens stay cyber-savvy and become tougher for online criminals to target.
Mother Mother Ocean (MMO 101), our free online course featuring the work of UWF faculty and their research around the Gulf of Mexico launched in March of 2016. The video based course contains about ten hours of content around subjects including marine archeology, maritime history, invasive species (lionfish), pirates, hurricanes, artificial reefs, and supply chain logistics. MM0 101 is the first in a series of Gulf Stories we’ll be telling.
The Institute is also producing a free online course called Cross-Cultural Competency. Topics will include religious diversity, disability, gender and sexuality, and issues surrounding international citizens. We’re expecting that course to launch in April of 2018 to coincide with Celebrate Diversity Month.