University of Missouri Extension has developed an innovative online program with the focus on building better leaders.
Leadership Online For Today is an interactive program that allows participants to improve communication skills, build relationships and networks, and develop a collaborative project to benefit a community or organization.
The first program is set to begin the week of Feb. 6. There are still open slots for the Feb. 6 cohort as well. Applications can be found on the Leadership Online For Today website.
“Traditional MU Extension programs are not effectively attracting the millennial generation (ages 18 to 34), so Extension wanted to create something that was appealing to this audience that was innovative, research-based and incorporated the use of technology,” said Rebecca Mott, research assistant with MU Extension. “Leadership Online For Today has been designed with flexibility in mind for both participants and leadership coaches.”
Mott; Johanna Reed Adams, Ph.D., a community leadership development state specialist with MU Extension; Connie Mefford, MSW, a community development Extension field specialist; and Georgia Stuart-Simmons, M.S., interim project manager with MU Extension, helped develop the program.
Reed Adams said the program has been in development for two years. MU faculty brainstormed leadership topics and those topics were then brought to millennials for feedback and suggestions. Extension leaders also talked with focus groups comprised of college students, Missouri 4-H members, Missouri FFA members and young professionals – all of who were in leadership positions.
“During these groups, participants were asked to draw on their own personal experiences to help guide the design of the delivery methods and specific needs the leadership curriculum should address,” Mefford said. “The curriculum team then met with various groups on the University of Missouri campus in order to learn more about leadership theories, as well as training that is currently being conducted.”
Leadership Online For Today will include 11 sessions. Each session will have a specific focus. All sessions will be accessed online.
“Participants will have the ability to work at their convenience within the week’s timeframe,” Reed Adams said. “Leadership coaches and members of the program will use VoiceThread or VoiceThread-Mobile. VoiceThread is a cloud-based, asynchronous media platform that allows for sharing videos, audio recordings, text, photographs or images. Electronic communications will complement the curriculum.
“Strengths of the curriculum include convenience and flexibility to help meet the scheduling and learning needs of millennials. Although this class is online, participants will build trust and develop a sense of community with other participants as well as their leadership coach as they interact online.”
“Experienced leadership coaches will guide the learning process by posing questions and helping members make progress toward their goals,” Stuart-Simmons added.
While the program is targeted at the millennial generation, anyone is able to apply for the program. There is a $225 registration fee and, once the program is completed, participants will receive a certificate of completion and 1.1 continuing education units.
“Leadership Online For Today was developed with the intent to prepare emerging leaders to affect positive community change,” Mott said. “This innovative online program allows participants to develop leadership skills at their own convenience. The program provides a unique experience for participants that will help prepare them for other leadership opportunities within the community.”