E-learning and the hospitality industry

August 28, 2012 By Professor Patrick O’Halloran Department of Hospitality, CityTech
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The hospitality industry as it relates to the “front of the house” is changing at a very rapid pace. In order to collaborate in today’s educational environment with today’s industry environment, it is imperative that our students are exposed to the new technical skills required so that they can enter the hospitality field.

Therefore, New York City College of Technology’s Hospitality Department hosts its own web-enhanced computer literary course. This course is designated for the appropriate and effective use of technology to enrich the learning environment in the operational overview of the front office and rooms operations.

Mandated activities that are essential for academic and industry imaging to take place include:

  • Strengthening the academic, career, and technical skills of students
  • Providing students with strong experience in, and understanding of, all aspects of the industry
  • Developing, improving and expanding the use of technology in career and technical education
  • Providing services and activities that are of sufficient size, scope and quality to be effective
  • Providing activities to prepare students for high-skill, high-wage and high-demand occupations that will lead to self-sufficiency

As educators and industry professionals, our objective is to introduce e-learning opportunities through the use of technology such as iPads, which should have the following features/apps:

  • E-textbooks
  • Assimilated front desk guest check-in check-out procedure
  • E-reservations
  • Housekeeping
  • Accounting
  • Restaurant/food and beverage
  • Parking
  • Sales/marketing
  • Class lectures
  • Access to daily trade magazines
  • MS office suite
  • House (hotel) count
  • Occupancy variance
  • Rooms division management
  • Forecasting

These features/apps are industry-driven and should be reviewed by industry professionals to ensure that all the latest skills are being taught to our student body and industry employees. The course professor should work to support essential characteristics of instruction in alignment with teaching and industry frameworks to improve the student’s skill set, which will result in viable employment opportunities.

Simulation exercises of hospitality industry-driven everyday activities such as guest stay information, guest departure and payment, accounting and financial summaries, reservations process and revenue management should feature exercises of increased complexity. Each exercise should provide the learner with a real world interactive learning experience. Students would therefore be able to purchase/access e-text direct and/or create access code cards. As a result, students would have a fully interactive and dynamic e-text available on their iPad, which can create/join study groups and annotate e-text on the iPad live in the classroom.

The unit’s learning journey will enable students to succeed in carrying out complex tasks which call for deep understanding of the content as demonstrated through the effective application of performance standards. Various formative assessments should be strategically designed to gauge incremental learning and also identify areas in which students need support.

It is important to note that in this teacher-led classroom, guided practice would be followed by independent practice by students working alone and practicing the new material and skills. This independent practice is necessary because a good deal of practice is needed in order to become fluent and automatic in a skill.

When material is over-learned, it can be recalled automatically and does not take up any space in working memory. When students become automatic in an area, they can then devote more of their attention to comprehension and application.

To introduce and sustain a successful e-learning enterprise one has to have an institutional commitment based on a robust technical infrastructure and industry supported network.

Professor Patrick O’Halloran teaches at CityTech in Downtown Brooklyn. His latest book is titled Detailed Job Descriptions in the Hospitality Industry. His email address is [email protected]

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