Basic Training

Asynchronous and Verified Basic Training Modules for the Design of Humanitarian Technologies

This project will create a “basic training” infrastructure comprised of educational modules to support the process of designing humanitarian technologies (DHT).  In the military model, “basic training” is a common experience that prepares personnel for more advanced training in specific specializations. Depending on the nature of the advanced training, the modules taken in basic training may be different. This effort proposes a similar model that would take the workload of basic training off of faculty members and transfer them into web-based and hourly staff based environments. Faculty members working in DHT could then select modules within which students must demonstrate competency prior to beginning their work.

The “basic training” approach taken here aims to take the best aspects of on-line education (scalability) and one-on-one interaction (student accountability and engagement) and put them together. Each basic training module will contain asynchronous content that is available on demand as well as skills development exercises to be performed with paid, skilled trainers and module evaluators. The modules would be available to both curricular and co-curricular students and faculty. Demonstrating competency in a module topic does not mean that a student is an expert in that topic (e.g., “entering a developing community”), but it does mean that the student has learned basic principles. It also means the student has demonstrated the ability to apply the basic principles to a specific project well enough to suggest to an independent evaluator that the student is ready to begin work with a faculty member on that particular topic. The approach will not only increase the quality of the faculty-student interaction and bring the student up-to-speed much faster, it will also reduce the workload for faculty members working in the DHT space. Evaluators will enhance the student-faculty interaction further by also serving as mentors and consultants available to students in office hours to facilitate their learning.

Project Team:

Steven Skerlos, Professor of Mechanical Engineering, College of Engineering

Shanna Daly, Assistant Research Scientist, College of Engineering

Kathleen Sienko, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering, College of Engineering