By Ivory Harlow, Ohio Cooperative Development Center Program Specialist
Cooperative businesses exist to serve members. Cooperative education must do the same– serve members, employees and students of cooperatives with relevant and timely information so that they can contribute effectively to their cooperative and the larger cooperative movement.
The Ohio Cooperative Development Center (OCDC) is excited to announce it has received a 2017 CHS Foundation Cooperative Education Grant to support OCDC’s effort to develop an online educational training for members, employees and students of cooperatives.
The course, “Co-op Mastery: Beyond Cooperatives 101,” will go beyond basic cooperative information by providing technical and practical guidance to new and existing cooperative businesses and students. The course will serve OCDC’s current client base in Ohio and West Virginia. Additionally, the online format will expand OCDC’s reach nationwide.
“Co-op Mastery: Beyond Cooperatives 101” contains ten modules. Each module focuses on a unique area of cooperative business. Modules address common challenge areas for new co-ops, such as co-op finances and legal considerations. Industry experts and co-op service providers offer insight to issues such as sources of equity, shared capital and tax treatment. Narrated presentations guide users through governance and financial documents.
Users can download cooperative business and financial templates, including purchasing and marketing agreements and board training development tools. They can search the “Co-op Mastery” online library to locate additional research-backed reference materials.
“Co-op Mastery” engages learners with interactive content that speaks to the modern learning environment. The course will include video and audio interviews with leaders in the cooperative movement. Photography and infographics give users a sneak peek into the world of cooperatives. Case studies highlight cooperative businesses, sharing successes and lessons learned.
OCDC will host monthly “office hours” within the course. Users can log-on to ask questions and get answers in real-time. The forum also serves as a networking opportunity for cooperatives to exchange perspectives with peers and experts.
Continuous education, training, and information is one of the cooperative movement’s principles, and an important part of OCDC’s mission. Additional content will be added to enhance the course and ensure training is up-to-date and relevant for the long-term. Updates will reflect co-op trends as well as suggestions and feedback from users to better serve their needs.
The course will be housed in the public access version of Canvas, The Ohio State University’s online learning management system. The open online format allows learners to search the course for information as it is needed. Students at The Ohio State University will be encouraged to access training materials that complement their agricultural studies.
“Co-op Mastery: Beyond Cooperatives 101” will be released beginning in spring of 2018. The Ohio Cooperative Development Center thanks the CHS Foundation for their generous support of the project and recognizes CHS’s commitment make a difference through cooperative education.