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Online Occupational Education in Community Colleges: Prevalence, Programming, and Connection with Workforce Development Needs

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This study examined the current state of online occupational programs in community colleges and explored issues related to institutional, economic, and social indicators that influence (a) the offering of online programs and (b) the programmatic connection to workforce development needs. The study is based on a random sample of 321 institutions in the United States. This project is the first national study categorizing online occupational programs according to the Career Clusters and Career Pathways classification scheme. Although research has shown that most institutions offer online occupational courses, only 47.5% of colleges in the sample offered credit-granting online occupational programs. Additionally, despite research finding that skill-based programs requiring manipulative skill development can be successfully taught online, this study found that few such programs exist. Finally, our research indicated that occupational program development is not driven by statewide economic indicators, such as the state's fastest growing occupations, suggesting a moderate responsiveness to states’ workforce development needs.
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Keywords: community and technical colleges; distance education; e-learning; workforce development

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 January 2012

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  • (CTER) publishes refereed articles that examine research and research-related topics in vocational/career and technical education, career development, human resource development, career issues in the schools (Grades K-12), postsecondary education, adult and lifelong learning, and workforce education. The CTER Editorial Board is committed to publishing scholarly work that represents a variety of conceptual and methodological bases. Submission of manuscripts representing one of the following styles is encouraged: (a) empirically-based manuscripts that report results of original research, either quantitative or qualitative, (b) reviews or synthesis of empirical or theoretical literature, (c) essays derived from original historical or philosophical research, (d) reviews of recently published books, and (e) rejoinders to articles recently published in CTER. CTER will consider for publication papers initially presented at conferences, including those disseminated through conference proceedings.
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