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Project SAIL: Meeting Student, Community, and Industry Needs

SAIL LogoAdvances in online learning have created new options and opportunities to extend courses, degrees, and training beyond traditional service boundaries and fulfill workforce needs in even the most remote communities. Eighteen months ago, the League for Innovation in the Community College, with funding from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, launched Project SAIL (Specialty Asynchronous Industry Learning) to build a national network promoting access, exchange, and dissemination of specialized industry-driven programs anywhere and anytime for community college students.

Project SAIL focuses on three key objectives:

  • Targeting Specialty Asynchronous Industry Learning content
  • Providing access to existing programs and degrees
  • Developing a model curriculum/content-exchange system

Since 2004, Project SAIL Partners, comprised of 18 community colleges have negotiated a total of 103 course or program transactions to the benefit of an estimated 485 community college students who otherwise would not have had access to these specialty programs.

More than 300 courses and 100 certificate or degree programs are now offered by Project SAIL Partners and are available for dissemination and delivery by designated agreement with college representatives and service provisions through the League. The list below includes a sample of the wide variety of specialty courses and programs that are available through Project SAIL. To access a complete list of available programs and courses, to find out how your college can participate in the project, or to obtain more information, visit the Project SAIL website (http://www.league.org/league/projects/sail/index.htm) or contact Stella Perez (perez@league.org).

Project SAIL Sample Courses and Programs

Continuing Professional Development

The Dallas County Community College District's Road to Attaining Job-Search Skills is among the Project SAIL offerings. This 40-hour instructional series is designed to help students meet job-search challenges in today's uncertain economy. The series includes an online, computer-based job-search training program targeting employment enrichment through four modules: Self-Skill Assessment and Resume Preparation; Interviewing Skills; Financial Planning; and Stress Management.

Technology and Manufacturing

Anne Arundel Community College is offering Introduction to UNIX/LINUX through Project SAIL. Topics include basic elements of the UNIX/LINUX operating system, sending and receiving email, hierarchical file structure, creating and editing documents, writing shell programs, and providing system security. Hands-on experience with a multi-user UNIX/LINUX system is provided.

St. Petersburg College's IT Computer and Network Security Education is offered in partnership with the International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium (ISC), the nonprofit international leader dedicated to training, qualifying, and certifying information security professionals worldwide. The courses in this program are based on the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), considered the gold standard of credentials for management-level information security professionals, and the Systems Security Certified Practitioner (SSCP) for information security professionals implementing security policy.

Bismarck State College's (BSC) Electric Power Technology is an industry-built program that addresses critical employment needs in the electric utilities workforce. BSC, in partnership with Energy Providers Coalition for Education (EPCE), has designed the Associate in Applied Science degree to provide a core set of skills and competencies and a broad knowledge of the industry. Optional certificates are available as stand-alones or as part of a degree. Specialization tracks include Line Construction, Generation, Substation, System Design, System Operations, and Metering.

Delta College's Manufacturing Processes focuses on the fundamentals of engineering materials and manufacturing processes and their interrelationship in product design.

HVACR Education.Net's Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning Refrigeration (HVACR) program can be applied to a community college, technical center, or workforce training environment. There are several program models allowing a flexible approach to fit the needs of the institution. The online HVACR program provides the theory courses and supports the lab skills required for a HVACR technical certificate level program. This technical certificate program provides 24 to 27 semester credits of HVACR specific technical content.

Allied Health and Social Services

Miami-Dade College offers its Medical Coder/Billing Specialist program through Project SAIL. This program prepares individuals for employment as specialists in the translation of diagnoses and procedures into number designations (coding) using the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-9-CM) and Current Procedural Terminology (CPT_4). The program involves coding, classifying, and indexing diagnoses and procedures for standardization, retrieval, and statistical analysis. The program also includes preparing and filing medical insurance claim forms for reimbursement. Electronic claims transmission training is included with a special emphasis on ethical and legal responsibilities, data quality, financial reimbursement, Diagnosis Related Groups (DRGs) and Ambulatory Patient Classifications (APCs).

Community College of Denver's Online Advanced Placement Nursing program can be applied to community colleges that wish to increase their capacity to educate nurses through flexible delivery formats. The program is targeted to licensed practical nurses currently working in the community who wish to advance themselves to registered-nurse status. Didactic instructional components of the advanced-placement AAS degree are available online, while clinical components must be scheduled and delivered locally.

Rio Salado College's Chemical Dependency program focuses on offering education to persons seeking to become chemical dependency professionals or paraprofessionals. The program offers two levels of chemical-dependency counseling certificates as well as an Associate of Applied Science (AAS). The AAS is designed to meet the needs of students seeking to become certified with state or national chemical-dependency counseling certification boards.


St. Louis Community College's Broadcast Captioning certificate program covers basic theory and application of the spoken word to real-time, instantaneous translation used for television broadcast captioning. The program also includes courses designed to teach students the necessary research skills in preparing captioning for news, weather, sports, and a variety of other television shows.

Business and Specialty Management

Shoreline Community College's Accounting Certificate of Proficiency prepares students for a variety of accounting occupations in the public and private sector. With the aid of improved and simplified software applications, many of these tasks are now performed and stored in computer files. Automation has expanded opportunities for managing financial information. In this accounting program, students use current software and develop skills in the creative process of organizing, analyzing, and interpreting financial information.

Central Arizona College's Business of Family Child Care certificate program addresses the multifaceted business aspects of providing family childcare, the fundamentals of a record-keeping system, and the principles of achieving a balance in work and family life while operating a family child-care business. This course fulfills the course and training requirements leading to the certification through the National Association of Family Child Care.

Lake Land College's Food Service Certificate Renewal is a refresher course intended to meet the needs of certified food service sanitation managers seeking renewal of their state certificate.

Monroe Community College's Golf Management Series is designed to provide students with an understanding of the golf industry, as well as the etiquette, definitions, and rules that govern the game of golf. The program objectives include working knowledge of a golf facility, operations of a golf facility, and the development of policies and procedures for operating a golf facility. Job responsibilities and management strategies are explored, as well as the planning, organization, and implementation of golf events.

Art and History

Kentucky Community and Technical College System's Historic Information Management/Certificate of Proficiency in Museum Studies program prepares students for entry-level work in the museum field and provides specialized training for persons currently working in museums. The course topics include collection development and cataloguing, exhibit design, and computer technology for museum environments. The system's Historic Information Management/Certificate of Proficiency in Archive Studies prepares students to arrange, preserve, and present archival materials for private and public archives. The course series also includes contextual review and specialty topics for appraisal, arrangement, and conversation materials. And the system's Historic Information Management/Certificate of Proficiency in Records Management Studies program focuses on training to identify the content, value, and importance of recorded information. Through a comprehensive understanding of the "Information Life Cycle", students learn to organize, manage, and electronically deliver recorded information in a timely and efficient manner.

Public Safety and Homeland Security

El Paso Community College's Fire Technology certificate program offers currently employed firefighters preparation for supervisory and management positions within the fire protection field. Program topics emphasize the management and administration of fire departments, their relationship to government agencies, and legal aspects of fire protection.

Kirkwood Community College's Hazardous Waste Site Worker Training (Hazwoper) program is also available through Project SAIL. This program is a self-paced, open-entry, open-exit, waste site worker program that meets all the requirements of 29 CFR 1910.120, OSHA's Hazardous Waste Site Worker and Emergency Response Standard. Topics include exercises on PPE, Regulations, Site Characterization, Confined Space, Decon, and others.

Herkimer County Community College's Corrections Certificate will upgrade skills and knowledge in corrections, including probation and parole. It is designed for those currently employed in the criminal-justice field and for those who wish to develop skills necessary to work in entry-level positions in corrections. Course objectives prepare graduates to work effectively in the areas of detention, supervision, administration, and rehabilitation; supervise the treatment and custodial care of inmates; guide and assist adult and juvenile inmates in adjusting to their new environment; guide inmates on their preparation for and adjustment to community life; and interview inmates, complete social and criminal histories, and recommend rehabilitation strategies.

Benefits of Project SAIL Participation

To meet the growing expectations of students, industry, and the ever-changing workforce development demands, many institutions are looking at alternative e-learning options beyond the significant budget investments of program and content development. Many are weighing the cost to develop, maintain, and distribute courses and programs against the cost to license, lease, or exchange courses and programs with other institutions. The hidden costs of distance learning, faculty development, and technological infrastructure point to new opportunities and interest to partner, purchase, or exchange specialized industry-driven programs.

All told, Project SAIL offers value to participating colleges and organizations, broadening program offerings, support, and funding for organizations contributing course content while maintaining significant services and benefits for students enrolled in Project SAIL courses through their home colleges and institutions. The curriculum and content exchange system – an array of customized purchase, license, and lease options – is the “win-win-win” foundation of Project SAIL. This exchange system serves the institution providing the specialty content that recaptures some of its investment funding; the recipient institution that enriches its program options, maintains FTE counts, and serves local industry needs; and, more important, the students who access successful, high-quality online or hybrid learning options while remaining at their home institution with sustained services such as advising, financial aid, tutoring, computer lab access, library access, career guidance services, and local industry placement services.

The distinct benefits and cost savings of Project SAIL participation offer solutions to the hidden costs of distance learning development, training, and design. Factoring these costs, with the time constraints for immediate local industry and workforce development needs, underscores the value of the curriculum and content exchange system. With opportunities to reinvest in local communities with innovative responses and solutions, rather than reinventing specialty content with heavy investments of time and money, Project SAIL offers a progressive path for community colleges' long-standing leadership in workforce training.


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