The funds will be used to develop three online degree programs—hospitality management, early childhood education and criminal justice—that were chosen based on discussions with local tribes and projected job growth statistics from the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission.
According to the commission’s Oklahoma Long-Term Occupational Outlook, 2008-2018 report, the number of elementary school teachers needed will increase by 17.12 percent. The commission also reported that careers obtained with a criminal justice degree are on the rise, the number of police and sheriff’s patrol officers is expected to increase by 16.60 percent. The numbers are even more promising for gaming careers, the commission projects gaming surveillance and investigators to increase by 18.32 percent, gaming supervisors by 23.99 percent and gaming dealers by 21.29 percent.
Rachel Lloyd, project director of the Title III grant, told The Joplin Globe that graduates with degrees in hospitality management will make them attractive to area tribal casinos and hotels. She also said the grant money will be used to update technology including high-quality streaming video for the online courses.
“We want to be forerunners in social media and mobile technology,” she told the Globe.
NEO President Dr. Jeff Hale pointed out that the new programs are not limited to Native American students, but they will be the focus.
“A fifth of NEO’s students are Native American, and the vast majority of these students are recipients of Pell Grants,” said Congressman Dan Boren, D-Oklahoma, in a release. “This funding will help NEO increase its capacity to serve Native American and low-income students through a program named ‘Merging Tradition and Technology to Create Access to High-Demand Careers.”
This is the second Title III grant given to NEO. The last one was used to establish a Native American Success and Cultural Center on campus. This time around no buildings will be built with the $2 million.
This grant will be used to improve online classes, develop the three new programs mentioned above and incorporate Native Ways of Knowing (NWOK) to match the curriculum to the needs of the Native American students at NEO.
Dr. Linda Sue Warner, NEO’s special assistant to the president on American Indian Education, will work on the redesign of the online courses. She has published a number of journal articles on the NWOK pedagogy, which according to a release, “places emphasis on interaction and relevance of course content.”