COLUMBUS, Ohio, July 30, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — EduSourced, a software platform providing career readiness through experiential and project-based learning in Higher Education, today announced it has been selected by the University of Illinois to power a new project-based collaboration between students, alumni, and officials from the World Health Organization/Pan-American Health Organization (WHO/PAHO) to empower more accurate public health decisions through data and IT during the COVID-19 global pandemic.
The University of Illinois Center for Health Informatics’ new international public health initiative, called the CHI Mobilizing Experts in Illinois (“CHIME in Illinois”) and launched on EduSourced, provides students with hands-on, real-world experience working directly with the WHO/PAHO on technical and informational projects to better inform public health decisions. Over the last six weeks, Illinois students and alumni have worked with WHO/PAHO and countries in the Americas to analyze the current status of countries’ information systems and their ability to aid in COVID-19 decision making.
In one specific initiative currently in progress, Illinois students are helping local health departments by creating a tool to increase access to and visibility of international COVID-19-related health metrics. The web portal pulls insights from real-time data sources, providing decision makers with a holistic view of their local situation as well as the continent as a whole. Students are also using data science to analyze social media to see what people in the Americas are saying about COVID-19, how countries are able to manage data, and how that data is used to make public health decisions related to quarantines, stay-at-home mandates, mask wearing, and hot spot identification.
“We are extremely proud to be selected by the University of Illinois and to support this critical project-based collaboration with the WHO/PAHO. As countries around the globe continue to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic, many are left a step behind because of the lack of resources in IT and data science. Through EduSourced, we’ve helped to close that gap by connecting those entities in need with Illinois students that possess those critical skills,” said David Comisford, Founder & CEO of EduSourced. “There is no better learning opportunity in Higher Education than to experience work in a hands-on environment. EduSourced provides schools with a platform for managing real-world engagements and leveraging their own industry partner ecosystems. These projects are not internships where students are doing menial tasks, they are honing their skills in a meaningful real-world scenario and making an incredibly positive impact on other communities while doing so.”
The EduSourced platform provides an easy-to-navigate, employer-based experiential learning portal for business and engineering students. Once deployed, Higher Education institutions can connect their faculty, industry partners, mentors and alumni for project work with student teams. For academic institutions with a rich history in experiential learning programs, they can customize EduSourced to meet their specific needs. For schools who are new to experiential learning, they find a turnkey solution making it straightforward to launch one of these high impact initiatives. The end result is an immersive learning experience that provides students with real-world portfolio work, and measurable feedback from professionals in the community – all with oversight needed from the academic institution.
“These students have the expertise we don’t have, and being under the leadership of Dr. Brooks provides an additional value, due to his knowledge of PAHO and our work with the countries of the Americas,” said Marcelo D’Agostino, WHO/PAHO senior advisor.
“The EduSourced platform is a simple-to-use interface where we can easily connect students with projects, and provides an experiential learning experience that goes above and beyond what you can typically do in a classroom,” said Ian Brooks, Director of the Center for Health Informatics at the University of Illinois and leader of the CHIME in Illinois initiative. “Most of our students using EduSourced for the CHIME in Illinois initiative are master’s students retraining from other degrees to be data scientists. What better way to truly learn the analytical side of data than to actually work on projects that directly impact issues real people face? With the COVID-19 pandemic interrupting traditional classroom learning, it’s been a terrific initiative for us.”
With the majority of schools currently shut down across the U.S., many questions remain surrounding the future of learning this fall. Experts predict that faculty could incorporate more online tools for added efficiency – making online technology alternatives even more important for the near future. The unknown status of classroom learning, and traditional internship programs has made experiential online learning even more crucial to provide students with tangible experiences before entering a real-world professional environment.
“You don’t need a classroom to give students the opportunity to test their skills and learn how to be better professionals. What’s a better way to learn about data science, to read it in a book or to analyze real data? This is what we provide Higher Education – hands-on, real-world learning to advance skills and prepare students for the workplace,” said Comisford. “With the uncertainty of the upcoming school year due to COVID-19, project-based learning will be more critical than ever before to ensure students continue to evolve as they prepare to enter the workforce.”
“Schools are growing their project-based learning programs to meet the student and employer demand for work-readiness upon graduation. Nearly half of the 91 schools we surveyed this year now have an office or a director of experiential learning. As these new offices form, a tool is needed as a central online repository for all of this activity. That is what EduSourced provides.”
EduSourced’s recent collaboration with the University of Illinois is the latest in its five-year relationship as the Company’s first deployed school. Since, EduSourced has worked with an additional 100 academic programs, empowering nearly 29,000 students to complete 6,583 projects for more than 4,300 companies.
EduSourced is the first tool designed to support every aspect of experiential project-based learning in Higher Education. Trusted by 100 academic programs and thousands of employers, EduSourced is used to provide a professional, collaborative environment for student teams and their clients, track project progress, identify the impact and outcomes of experiential projects, and build a complete archive of all project records. To learn more, please visit www.edusourced.com