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WIDS Helps Apprenticeship with a New Direction

WIDS Helps Apprenticeship with a New Direction

How does an apprenticeship organization accommodate rapid growth and manage expanding curricular needs for its apprenticeship program? This was the challenge the Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship (DGA) organization presented to WIDS for its national apprenticeship.

The dairy grazier apprenticeship is registered with the U.S. Department of Labor - Employment and Training. Administration. A dairy grazier is a farmer who uses managed grazing techniques for dairy production. DGA currently has 154 approved Master Dairy Graziers in 11 states: Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and Wisconsin.

Apprenticeships require apprentices to take program-specific courses to complete an apprenticeship.  The courses can be provided through an apprenticeship community or through a college. Since  DGA’s apprenticeship was first established in 2010, the organization has offered courses through partner institutions in Wisconsin.  However, rapid growth of the program and the educational needs of participants in regions outside of Wisconsin prompted DGA to seek assistance with developing its own school to provide apprenticeship-related instruction.

When DGA contacted WIDS, the goal was to deliver the curriculum in an easily accessible, online platform.

WIDS researched the options for DGA to operate its own legally-recognized school. This involved answering questions such as:

  • Which agencies and/or government departments will approve a non-degree school for legal operation?
  • What are the requirements for a non-degree school to achieve approval?
  • Once approved, what is required for the school to legally offer online courses to apprentices in multiple states?
  • For future DGA plans, which accrediting agencies would accept the legally approved school for potential accreditation? 

“Because DGA is both innovative and embedded in established institutions, the pathway to offering custom classes was not clear. Our WIDS consultant’s thorough and well-presented research saved us a lot of time. She made sure we understood all options and helped us avoid missteps in the process,” said Bridget O’Meara Communications Director for Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship.

WIDS determined that DGA’s best option was to seek approval for a non-degree school through the Wisconsin Educational Approval Program (EAP). The EAP approval would allow DGA to legally provide online courses to apprentices in most of other states as well. (A few states will have separate criteria for online school operation.)  DGA sought approval from EAP for their newly named school: Managed Grazing Innovation Center (MGIC). 

To ensure a successful application process, WIDS developed a project timeline and guided DGA through the application process by interpreting approval requirements. In addition, WIDS worked closely with DGA to develop grading scales, grading policies, attendance policies, withdrawal and refund policies, student conduct policies and record retention policies required to secure EAP approval. To meet EAP transparency requirements, grading scales and policies were placed in WIDS software.   WIDS reports provide a uniform and consistent format for dissemination of critical information to EAP, as well as to all staff working with the curriculum.

WIDS worked with DGA to revise the existing curriculum to meet both the EAP application and apprenticeship academic requirements.  As a federally approved apprenticeship registered with the National Apprenticeship Program (US DOL), DGA needed to maintain the academic rigor of the apprenticeship-required courses. WIDS helped revise the curriculum to better reflect the technical skills and specific knowledge base required for a certified Dairy Grazier.

To ensure that  DGA’s MGIC would provide the skills and concepts apprentices needed, WIDS and DGA engaged certified master dairy graziers and other industry experts in the curriculum development process.  By using the WIDS model and software, the development team created new program outcomes, course-level competencies and corresponding criteria resulting in a robust curriculum framework.  With WIDS software matrix tools, the team quickly aligned the National Apprenticeship Program requirements to the new curriculum framework. WIDS’s many reporting features  gave DGA detailed Program Outcome Summary reports, Course Outcome Summary reports and Course Syllabi. These reports  provided EAP with detailed evidence that DGA was meeting their requirements.

 O’Meara adds, “WIDS curriculum application and consulting support has been essential not only for assisting DGA through the approval process with the Wisconsin Education Approval Program, but also from a practical standpoint of organizing courses, creating lesson plans, and developing teaching materials."

WIDS guided DGA through an evaluation of several Learning Management Systems (LMS). DGA chose Moodle as its LMS for online delivery. WIDS used the MGIC curriculum to build the framework for Moodle courses. WIDS also provided Moodle management training for MGIC’s LMS administrator and facilitated training for Moodle course design, development, and management for the MGIC instructor.

In just one year, MGIC was fully developed and is now ready to launch. DGA  has long-range plans for the MGIC program. After the first cohort of students moves through the full program, DGA will apply to join the Registered Apprenticeship-College Consortium (RACC) by moving through a credit-equivalency evaluation process. Once the MGIC program has been approved by RACC, any student who has completed a MGIC course will be able to transfer the credits to a RACC registered college.

Though it might seem like magic that curriculum development, accreditation approval, and LMS delivery are in place in such a short amount of time, it wasn’t magic. Instead, it was a solid partnership between WIDS consulting and the client that brought together the real "MGIC"!

To preview some of the curriculum documentation generated out of the WIDS software, download the free Sample DGA Curriculum Packet.

Contact WIDS to learn more about our curriculum management system and consulting services.


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