THE SKILLS ACADEMY
In 2017, members of the Radlab team initiated discussions on how we might assist in filling skill gaps for both Creighton University students and members of the community. With experience in researching and presenting on badges in education, we decided to explore this further. The results of the market research, discussions, and collaborations resulted in the development of the Skills Academy. Since then the Radlab has offered two badge programs and is currently working on new ones based on identified skill gaps. Additional information on existing badge programs is available at: https://gradschool.creighton.edu/programs/professional-development/courses/technology-and-innovation-courses.
Drone Aviation was a Skills Academy badge program developed by the Radlab in collaboration with Oracle Aviation and Little Arms Studios. This was a five-week program with the first two weeks entirely online to prepare participants for the FAA Part 107 Remote Pilot Certification Exam, the second two weeks used simulation software and a transmitter, and for the final two days, students were onsite splitting their time between classroom sessions and flying drones. We had great success with this program, but we are not currently offering it. This will be revisted in the future.
Design thinking is a people-centered process that promotes the use of innovation, creativity, and collaboration to address challenges. It is different from other techniques in that it encourages a deep understanding of the target audience and the inclusion of a diverse group to ideate potential solutions. Time is spent to define and redefine the challenge to ensure that it is the appropriate one. The inclusive collaborative group works together to brainstorm ideas. Simple and inexpensive prototypes are created from the best ideas and tested to determine how well the solution meets the challenge. The process is iterative with refinements made through each iteration.
Design Thinking was the second badge program developed by the Radlab Skills Academy with the first six-week online course offered in the summer of 2018. In this course, students learn to use a variety of tools to enhance their creativity and innovation skills by using design thinking for problem-solving. They learn how the design thinking process has been used in real-world challenges and by innovative organizations. The course includes readings, videos, activities, discussions, and challenges as well as a final collaborative design thinking project that targets a real-world problem. The end result is that students are better able to help their organizations and themselves to successfully and economically solve a variety of challenges. The course was also taught as an MBA course.
After the initial offerings from the Skills Academy, the Radlab has assessed and is modifying the Skills Academy curriculum. Having attended Omaha STEM Ecosystem meetings with business leaders, and with additional research, it seems appropriate to pay more attention to gaps that businesses recognize in soft skills.
The result of this research is displayed in the graph below which highlights the top five soft skills that businesses are looking for in potential employees. This will serve to guide future development.
The Radlab is currently developing courses in Introduction to Artificial Intelligence for Organizational Leaders, Design Thinking for Educators, Innovation & Creativity, and Critical Thinking.