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Purpose of WRE
As the fast-paced field of electronics has advanced, community colleges have had to struggle to keep their curricula up to date. Sometimes it seems like a losing battle to faculty, especially those who carry a large teaching load. The technology moves so fast that many current technological applications and new electronic components, equipment, and methods are simply unavailable in standard textbooks, says Lou Frenzel, electronics instructor at Austin Community College and author of 18 electronics books and numerous articles. After completing a comprehensive review of electronics curriculum and surveying industry subject matter experts, Frenzel concluded there are significant gaps in textbooks that may prevent students from gaining key knowledge and skills required by industry employers. Frenzel explains that instructors lack time, funding, and incentive to revise curricula on their own. Meanwhile, industry wants graduates who are well grounded in the latest technological developments.

The WRE Solution
WRE is designing and developing instructional modules that may be used independently or integrated with current electronics curricula in college programs. The modules address those topics, knowledge, and skills that have not been sufficiently covered by even the most popular electronics textbooks but are considered essential to technicians in today’s industry. WRE modules are to be delivered to students and faculty via Internet, thus providing 24-7 access to cutting-edge electronics with the widest distribution possible. On-line modules will provide instructor-led learning activities, self-paced study, guidance and specifications for lab experiments, performance assessments, and optional learning opportunities such as Internet research, collaborative projects, and peer-assessment. Although many activities will provide for exploratory learning and self-guided achievement, performance assessments will be based on measurable learning objectives that reflect specific competencies of electronics technicians. This blended pedagogical model will ensure achievement of essential learning elements within each topic area while enabling students to expand their knowledge and skills beyond stated performance objectives.

WRE will also offer workshops to help bring electronics faculty up to date with new industry standards and best practices and to introduce a variety of technology-supported teaching strategies. Workshops will introduce the WRE modular format and systematic methods for integrating the modules into existing courses and programs. Technical topics will be covered in detail to reveal new industry needs for technician competency. Strategies for teaching and learner-centered approaches using the blended model will be presented, explained, and practiced by attendees to demonstrate advantages to student learning and to teaching within applied technical domains.