At GoSprout, we’ve been delighted with the response we’ve received to what we’re doing to make registered apprenticeship creation and management simpler, and we’re so excited that education technology leaders across the country are getting involved including Joseph Riquelme.
On that front, we’re extremely excited and fortunate to welcome Joseph as an advisor.
Joseph joins us with a career leading digital education at some of our nation’s top programs including 14 years at Florida International University and more recently 3 years at Chief Online Officer at American University.
Joseph was kind enough to sit down with us to share some observations about how the way education is delivered has changed and what has him excited about the next ten years and how GoSprout is helping bring that vision to life.
Q: Before we get into what you’re up to today, can you share a little history with us? Back when you joined FIU in 2006, what was going on with distance learning? What digital programs were available?
It’s been great to participate in the evolution of digital learning over the years. There are so many opportunities today to engage in learning that were not available 20 years ago. When I started, so much time and effort was around managing the infrastructure, updates to the systems, bugs, and managing uptime of the environments.
There were also challenges with software working on certain browsers or operating systems.
Fast forward to today, and educational leaders can focus on the learning experience, the design, the offerings, the outcomes and the success of their students. There are great cloud-based software systems, authoring tools, and plenty of information and research around best practices in designing and delivering courses. Everything from degree programs, skill based training to on the job training is top of mind for educational leaders.
Q: During your tenure at FIU, broadband internet proliferated at the residential level and FIU carved out a reputation as one of the top online education programs in the nation. Can you tell us about the early days and the opportunity the FIU team saw?
In the early days, there was a lot of debate over online education and if it would cannibalize the on-campus experience. FIU serves a large population of first generation students and has had a significant impact in creating opportunities to enhance students’ socioeconomic position.
We knew there was a large population of learners who had withdrawn or could not complete a traditional campus experience because they had to work and had family obligations. We knew online degrees could create access and opportunity for that population.
Luckily, we had support from fantastic leadership and a visionary Dean of Business named Joyce Elam, who supported the launch of 4 online business degrees. The students we enrolled were mostly over 25 and overwhelmingly female, which was very different from the campus demographics. That is when the university really rallied around the online programs, and the rest is history.
Over 100 online degrees were launched during my time at FIU!
Q: What are the pros of online education programs?
I can’t say it enough: the access and opportunity it creates for so many who cannot afford or commit to the traditional campus experience.
Q: What are the challenges?
Online education is not for everyone and it should not be viewed as a replacement for a traditional campus experience, rather a complimentary offering that can enhance an on campus experience or an additional pathway for learners.
There is still too much debate on school campuses around the impact online education has on campus culture.
Q: Based on your multi-decade experience in higher education, what do you see as the benefits for colleges of having registered apprenticeship programs?
Having a registered apprenticeship program creates another opportunity for institutions to serve a different type of learner. Expanding their ability to transmit knowledge through instruction, a key component of a university’s mission.
The apprenticeship program is also another way for the university to build closer relationships with employers in their community, partnering on curriculum development in a way that will have a positive economic impact in the communities they serve.
Q: At the macro level, what are some of the challenges you’ve seen with apprenticeship programs historically?
There is a lot of confusion out there. Many people hear the word “apprentice” and think of squires from mediaeval times or something.
As a student, you can get an apprenticeship and make real money and graduate debt-free with a degree and a job. That’s powerful!
I don’t think the general public is aware of apprenticeships as being a regulated program in the United States, and the benefits for all stakeholders are not well-known either.
There are plenty of government benefits that have similarities with tax credits that are available.
For companies that do know about the benefits of registered apprenticeships, compliance has historically been challenging. That’s why a platform like GoSprout is so exciting.
Q: What are the benefits when they are run well for employers and communities?
There are quite a few:
- Helps organizations scale.
- Improved employee retention rates.
- Skilled labor without adding to student debt.
- Expanded opportunities for upward mobility.
- The overall job base in a community often grows.
Q: Fast forward to today, and we couldn’t be happier to have you as an advisor and part of our team…what got you excited about GoSprout?
One of the reasons I am excited about GoSprout is the impact they are making in facilitating and expanding apprenticeship opportunities. Apprenticeship is another way to expand access to opportunities that can have a positive impact on social mobility. There is a shortage of skilled labor and apprenticeships offer a way to close the gap, helping organizations grow and serve their customers with a skilled team. It creates closer alignment and collaboration between employers and educators. When I reflected on their mission, it reminded me why I am passionate about online education. It’s all about expanding access and opportunities.
Q: What are you looking to accomplish as a part of the team?
Help the GoSprout team continue to Scale their operation to support more RTI-Provider Universities, Colleges, and Employers in launching apprenticeship programs leveraging the GoSprout platform and services.
Q: For people who may be interested in your consulting expertise around HigherEd, what’s the best way to reach you?
If it’s apprenticeship management-related, please use email@example.com.
For other services, please connect with me on LinkedIn:
If you’re in the Miami area or will be at one of the many conferences GoSprout attends, I’d love to meet you in person. GoSprout posts their conference schedule on LinkedIn and on their blog.