Lake Region Community College Foundation

Report date
September 2016

What has been most instrumental to your progress?

Education: This aspect of our project was twofold. First, significant work was done to develop a rigorous, evidence based curriculum resulting in not simply a “2+2” model, but rather a comprehensive program that sequentially guides students from freshman (novice) to senior pre-professionals in the interpreting field. Second, in order to accomplish a quality curriculum delivered between two institutions of higher education, much education needed to be delivered to key stakeholders regarding the importance of the project.
Public and societal: Two of the project goals are to provide a BAS degree in Interpreting and Sign Language Studies by 1) increasing the number of personnel available for interpreting for the deaf and hard of hearing (D/HH), 2) improve the quality of interpreter services for the D/HH. The Americans with Disabilities Act requires services to be provided for all Americans with speech and hearing barriers to be able to participate as citizens in public and societal venues such as schools, public meetings, lectures and speeches. According to a recent study, nearly 90% of children who are D/HH are educated in the general education classroom for some portion of their school day. A need had been identified in pre-project work for more qualified ASL providers. This is important.
Human Services: The remaining three goals of the project are to 1) provide interpreters the opportunity to upgrade their skills on a continuing basis, 2) effectively prepare professional interpreters for national certification examinations and 3)provide candidates with a broad knowledge base in disciplines closely related to the filed of interpreting through Bachelor's level education. This project allows for a continuity of education for American Sign Language Interpreters. Collaborative partners are meeting the identified community need of providing initial education for an individual to test for national certification examinations. Additionally, the new curriculum will be accessible online and interactive and available to currently credentialed interpreters to ensure ongoing competency. Currently, there does not exist another 4 year degree program in Interpreting and Sign language in South Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, Saskatchewan, Manitoba or North Dakota. Significantly important.

Key lessons learned

The project work is to utilize the community Innovation processes (Bush) for breakthrough pursuit and testing of capacity-building efforts to increase access for deaf/HH citizens to qualified American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters. Our plan included partnership expansion with the North Dakota School for the Deaf (NDSD) to increase the number of ASL learners by collaborating with high schools and deliver ASL as a World Language option and also partner with (Minot State University) MiSU to plan, promote, and seamlessly deliver a 2 + 2 program resulting in a Bachelor of Applied Science degree in Interpreting and Sign Language Studies. We encountered some systems issues in regards to delivery methods that caused delays in the progression of the project. This could not be considered a failure as the project will still be able to meet its goals with a timeline extension.
Several key lessons were learned during this year’s work; however, the central theme in each item relates to the collaborative process. Developing a new degree that is delivered between two institutions is not as simple as it appears on the surface! While in the same state higher education system, LRSC and MiSU each have their own polies and procedures that needed to be navigated. Significant effort in the area of building collaborative partnerships was made in order to align the two systems so that students could move between them effectively. Again, the process delays are what they are, simply delays, not a failure in the project outcome.

Reflections on inclusive, collaborative or resourceful problem-solving

Collaboration. Several challenges developed after the project was underway. First, the IVN capabilities at MiSU were not able to accommodate the new curriculum load. Second, changes in the course conversion from face to face/IVN to online required several ASL courses to be converted and delivered, however the North Dakota University System (NDUS) is requiring Lake Region State College (LRSC) to switch from Pearson e-College to Blackboard (standardizing all campuses) to deliver the courses. LRSC faculty currently do not have access to or the training on Blackboard to do the course creation/conversion. MiSU is a Blackboard campus and the faculty currently writing curriculum could begin the process in the spring. Third, the North Dakota state budget cuts have resulted in a down-sizing of staff at MiSU. Discussion has led to a request for a grant extension in order to utilize the matching funds available to assist with needed equipment and staffing to complete the grant project goals –

Other key elements of Community Innovation


Understanding the problem

Utilizing the community innovation process clarified the potential innovations rather than the need. Three stages of innovations best described our project:1) increase collective understanding of the issue, 2) idea generation to solve the issues and 3) testing and implementing the solutions. The concept of creating a streamlined curriculum for professionals to meet the qualifications for those testing was readily understood without much difficulty.
Two mitigating circumstances out of control of the collaborators; 1)state budget cuts in higher education and 2) standardization of interactive video education in all ND college and university settings. Both challenges required much dialog to reach final stages of testing and solution implementation to meet the community needs of providing qualified professionals.

Project innovation was stated in three distinct ways:1) curriculum content, 2) distance program delivery and 3) collaboration of existing state systems. The two stated challenges did not impact the collaborative party abilities involved in education. The distance program (course conversion) delivery are requiring a longer time than initially planned.

If you could do it all over again...

One piece of advice might be, “Don’t assume: be prepared to work harder than expected!” As described earlier some unexpected barriers were discovered and needed to be navigated; perhaps, having a larger group of stakeholders involved earlier in the process may have brought these barriers to light sooner.

One last thought

It is difficult to assess issues and plan for solutions when not privy to "behind the scenes ' discussions. The collaborators were not aware of plans to require all colleges and universities to become one system for curriculum delivery. This resulted in a delay of converting curriculum twice, or wait until the delivery system was in place and then convert the curriculum only once. Due to the unforeseen time issues, The collaborative partners desire to request a second extension in order to complete the goals of the work.