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When Programs get Bogged Down:  Providing an end-to-end solution

To help counter the pharmacist shortage in Eastern North Carolina, the NC Legislature passed a 2004 bill to fund a joint Pharm.D. degree program between UNC Chapel Hill’s School of Pharmacy and Elizabeth City State University (ECSU). The program goal was to establish a real-time video-teleconference-based (VTC) degree-granting satellite of Chapel Hill’s three-year Pharm.D. program at ECSU, whose graduates would then set up practice in Eastern NC. UNC and ECSU spent almost a year trying to develop the VTC System, but the project stalled without significant progress. What the partnership lacked was experience-based leadership to integrate the technology into an education process. This type of leadership ensured all students would receive equal, high-quality learning.

UNC and ECSU called on us (while we were still at UNC Chapel Hill) to take over the project because of our years of expertise building VTC systems to meet instructional needs. As time was of the essence, we immediately put our education-centric “Tailored Technology” approach into action, designing a high quality, cost-effective, user-friendly VTC learning system that was driven by instructional needs instead of technological availability. We quickly assembled vendor and university teams that completed the $1.5 million project in five months, which included design, construction, implementation, faculty instruction training, and assessment.

The result was a pioneering system that met initial instructional goals, yet was designed for scalability and instructional innovations. This project highlights the turnkey technology-rich solutions we can provide as experienced educators and researchers to meet today’s growing education challenges. These solutions include ensuring equity of access, overcoming fiscal constraints, providing best IT-based practices, pedagogies, and training, and getting innovative, high-stakes projects done on time, with excellence.