National Defense University (NDU) is the premiere joint educational institution in the United States. The Information Resources Management (IRM) College has become the largest college within NDU. Anything to do with information, information technology and the changes that are taking place in the world are NDU’s primary focus.
NDU is about developing information leaders. In the information age, people need to engage and react to each other differently. New technology raises complex questions. How do you validate that the website you are looking at has valid information or how do you lead in an environment where all knowledge is possible? Information age leadership is different because of the sheer number of information and communication resources available.
The IRM college initially offered several certificate programs, but it become apparent that many students wanted to go on to earn a masters or doctorate degree. They were faced with the decision of setting up a degree program “in house” or exploring partnerships with universities. In the end, the IRM college choose to partner with universities.
Syracuse University was the original partner with the National Defense University’s IRM college. The relationship started in 1996 with a memorandum of agreement to take students that have finished a certificate program and allow them to complete a masters program at Syracuse with advanced standing. This successful partnership has yielded over 150 graduates.
Forming robust partnerships with an array of universities is the key providing IRM students with the right education. When forming new partnerships, representatives from the IRM college will go visit the potential partner school or vice versa. They talk about the programs and curriculum and try to see where there is alignment. IRM students should graduate from IRM certificate programs prepared and ready to enter the partner colleges programs.
Although Syracuse was the original partner, the IRM College has now formed over thirty partnership with schools across the country. Most colleges only accept a maximum of 6 transfer credits, but because the IRM has proven the quality of their program, IRM students are able to 9 to 15 credits to the partner schools. Any good partnership is about finding the overlap of interests. If one side's interests aren’t satisfied, they can only bend over backwards for so long and the partnership doesn’t flourish. Sometimes the IRM college’s partnerships don’t work and they can’t find the mutual interest, but that’s why selection is so important.
Many colleges are hesitant to forge such a relationship with the workforce because of the negative stigma attached to “training”, but as Dr. Childs points out, the line between training and education has begun to blur. All education should have objectives and goals.
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