In the federal-state competition “Advancement through Education: Open Universities”, the West Coast University of Applied Sciences in Heide, together with other universities in the Schleswig-Holstein region, was selected for further funding by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. The partners for the LINAVO* Project are the Lübeck and Kiel Universities of Applied Sciences as well as the University of Flensburg.
- Due to the innovative and new character of combining e-learning with the opening of colleges to “non-traditional” target groups, our own research for the development of online further education in the field of Tourism Management was carried out as part of the research and development project. The analysis, which was carried out to determine the importance of training in tourism, non-use reasons for further education courses in tourism and expectations of further education courses in tourism, was based on a survey carried out by a panel of experts from July to October 2013.
- The aim is to promote extra-occupational study and lifelong, scientific learning in tourism especially for the new target groups of the university, such as professionals, people with domestic responsibilities and people returning to professional life. In doing so, greater permeability between vocational and academic education should be achieved and newly gained knowledge will be quickly integrated into practice. Furthermore, the task of the West Coast University of Applied Science includes raising awareness for lifelong learning as well as the coordination of public relations for the entire project.
- Within the scope of the project, the focus of the program development work was initially on analyses, such as the demand and target group analyses and the analysis of the competition. Based on this, the development of the learning outcomes and competence profiles as well as the curricular structure was done in close collaboration with companies, associations and chambers. The developments at the West Coast University of Applied Science and throughout the entire project were continuously passed on to the network of academic advisors in Schleswig-Holstein and the Tourism Advisory Board at the West Coast University of Applied Science. Based on the curriculum, authors for the creation of methodological and didactic module concepts and online modules were acquired and the content for the course introduction was prepared. At the formal level, the further education statutes, the regulations governing fees including the system for the participation in a course of further education and the examination regulations for the online Master’s program in Tourism Management were also adopted. Moreover, cooperation contracts and implementation agreements for the sustainable implementation of the further educational offer were closed.
- The objective at the West Coast University of Applied Science has been achieved in full. The research results were published online in September 2015. An extra-occupational, further education online Master’s degree program in Tourism Management has been successfully developed and tested. In the testing phase in the 2014/15 winter semester, the West Coast University of Applied Science dealt with a disproportionately large share of course registrations, a total of 447 of the just over 1000 registrations, in six of the 29 courses offered in total. The program was given accreditation after the project ended on 14 July 2015, was approved by the ministry and will be introduced in the 2016 summer semester.
The great success of the testing phase as a whole and especially at the West Coast University of Applied Science shows that the raising awareness of lifelong learning as well as the coordination of public relations throughout the project worked well. In the survey given at the beginning of the testing phase, the most frequent answer to the question “How did you become aware of the trial phase of LINAVO?” was “Press article/display” with 21.4% of the respondents. Not only information for the target group regarding the necessity of lifelong learning was promoted, but also “non-traditional” target groups of the colleges were also specifically addressed with an appropriate offer.
The West Coast University of Applied Science would like to be able to advise potential students and companies in the country who are looking to provide further qualifications to their employees even after the conclusion of the project period. The Further Education Institution for Academic Studies and e-Learning Offers (W.I.S.E.) was founded to ensure sustained implementation of this task after the project ends. Moreover, further research and development projects for the development and expansion of lifelong learning in the region and more can also be anchored to the West Coast University of Applied Science and realised.
- The online Master’s degree program in Tourism Management combines theory and practice on the cutting edge of science. Current issues are reflected upon and the reference for the application in professional practice is prepared. The study materials have been produced in such a way that students who are also working have flexibility in terms of where they study and when. This not only leads to better balance with their work but also creates a close link between what they have learnt with their everyday fields of activity.
*The project “Open Universities in Schleswig-Holstein: Learning on the Net, Advancement on Site” (LINAVO) was funded at the West Coast University of Applied Sciences by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research under the funding code FKZ 16OH11060.