The Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education (OSHRE) has approved three new micro-credentials for Rogers State University’s Department of Technology and Justice Studies: software developer, designing and 3D essentials, and artificial intelligence.
The new micro-credentials, which will be offered beginning in the spring 2024 semester, were developed in response to an increased demand for critical STEM disciplines through alternative learning pathways, specifically, micro-credentials.
Micro-credentials are short-term, flexible and individualized training in specific fields, developed with the intention to elevate the employment viability of those entering the workforce.
RSU Technology and Justice Studies Department Head Curtis Sparling said the newly added programs will serve to enhance the university’s already innovative micro-credentials studies.
“Prior to these new accreditations, our department had eight OSHRE-approved micro-credentials in keeping with the state’s UpskillOK Initiative,” Sparling said. “The overall intent of this initiative is to provide Oklahoma residents the opportunity to come to a university, whether for the first time or as a returning student, and have a somewhat ‘quick in, quick out’ education that will ultimately provide them with an open door into the workforce or change of career. That kind of ‘on ramp and off ramp’ approach to an education is a little different, a little more innovative than what we’ve traditionally thought about when considering higher learning.
“What we’ve been seeing is individuals coming to RSU, specifically, the Department of Technology and Justice Studies, and get these groupings of computer science and unmanned aircraft systems courses, that allow them to get the specialized training to be more marketable in the workforce,” he continued. “They then come back periodically to increase that education, and since we’re doing those in blocks of six to nine credit hours, in a scaffolded format, it allows them to increase their education, increase their employability on their own time without that initial four-year commitment.”
RSU Technology and Justice Studies Instructor Abhilash Minukuri describes the newly added micro-credentials.
“One of the most interesting new micro-credentials, certainly the most talked about in recent times is artificial intelligence, although our micro-credential will be about AI with regard to game development,” Minukuri said. “As we pivot to more sophisticated forms of entertainment and media, AI plays a critical role. The game development aspect makes learning AI compelling and applicable.
“What’s more, these skills are transferable and can drive innovation across Oklahoma’s critical industries, such as energy, finance and healthcare,” he said. “We won’t just be teaching game development. We’ll be fostering a future workforce.”
Although the game programming aspect will be the initial focus of the AI micro-credential, Minukuri said it will likely be broadened in the future.
“We will also be offering a design and 3D essentials micro-credential,” Minukuri said. “Our state has a good number of creative industries and there’s a demand for 3D design skills. These micro-credentials will provide a strong foundation for careers in various fields, such as architecture, product design and digital media. They are also a critical part of retaining our creative talents, providing them with the capabilities to succeed locally and contribute to the economy.
“Lastly is our software development micro-credential,” he said. “In Oklahoma, software development is no longer confined to tech companies. It’s a skill that’s becoming indispensable in our key sectors, from agriculture to manufacturing. This micro-credential program is designed to address the direct needs of these industries by equipping professionals with modern, applicable software development skills.”
Minukuri added that the curriculum aligns with Oklahoma’s “Complete College America” goals, ensuring RSU contributes to the state’s higher education success and workforce readiness.
In addition to the new programs, other micro-credentials offered by RSU’s Department of Technology and Justice Studies include fundamentals of detention and corrections, community policing, information technology help desk technician, information security practitioner, Microsoft Office practitioner, programming technician, and website technician, and in April 2023, RSU became the first institution in the state to offer OSRHE-approved drone pilot micro-credentials.
For more information about micro-credentials available through RSU’s Department of Technology and Justice Studies, visit www.rsu.edu/TJSmicro.