Tag Archives: Community college

League of Innovations 2015, Day 2

Revisiting what a community college classroom looks like.

When I started teaching online in ’96 (it sounds like one of those movie with Gaby Hayes)–the two of use working on developing the courses felt as if we were cutting paths in an unexplored wilderness.  We did not take the time to look around us to see all of the others tackling the same innovations from other directions.

Over the last few years, those of us in THE Initiatives have been excited with the idea of reshaping the classroom.   The sense is much the same.  We are pioneers moving into new, unexplored territories.

It is still disconcerting to look up and find others populating the wilderness we assumed was uninhabited.  Other pioneers working on similar projects.  People who share our values, our goals.  At first it is threatening.  But as I listen, I hear an affirmation of what we have accomplished and a challenge to continue moving forward.

League for Innovations 2015, Day 2

Adjunct Faculty Professional Development and Mentoring: I am holding out some hope for this one.

The Suburban Professor, some colleagues, and I have tackled this issue for years.  We have tried a wide range of approaches: seminars, workshops, round tables, embedded observations–all of it with limited success.

The struggle is understandable.

First and fore foremost, adjuncts are part time workers.  They have other obligations and receive minimum pay for  the jobs that they have been hired to perform.  They often lack the resources, motivation, or time to participate in outside activities.

And second–perhaps more damning and more immediate–is the culture of the community college.  Professors, instructors, administrators can not or will not admit to their limitations, shortcomings, or weaknesses.

The irony here is not funny; it is crippling.

In institutions founded on the notion of self improvement, growth, betterment, the leaders (faculty) place no value on their own self-improvement.  Professional development is an admission, a liability.  The education is complete.

A sweeping generalization I know.  But one that has been reinforced by years of observation and participation in professional development initiatives.

Before any professional development program gains momentum, the culture has to change.

Our students make a commitment.  They take a chance.  Financially, emotionally, socially.  They decide they want to become something more and make the decision to take the risk necessary to realize that goal.

I wonder if we have that same type of grit.

Along those lines, the session on Curmudgeons was a perfect follow-up.

League for Innovations 2015, Day 1

One of the last sessions I sat in today was on incorporating Facebook in a traditional Composition classroom.  The session was not particularly revolutionary.  The instructor, though, did an excellent job of providing a clear, concise approach to incorporating social media in a traditional, face to face classroom.

In passing at the end of the session, she pointed out the information Facebook provided, the data on the students’ interaction with the site.  The conversation quickly shifted to traditional concerns.  Classroom management, bad words, and bullying.

Everyone overlooked the powerful tool that she briefly flashed on the screen.  She has access to students’ behavior patterns.

This is nothing new.  D2L, Blackboard, the old Angel and WebCT platforms all provided similar information. What I found striking is academia’s continued oversight of the implications of that information.

In a conference dominated by vendors extolling various aspects of “analytics” (the latest buzz word appearing on every email out of system) and data collection, nobody seems to spot the potential of the data.

We do not need the precogs to predict the future.  We have the data to reshape the present.

League for Innovations 2015

Simone, Michele and I just finished our presentation for League for Innovation.  Twitter #INNMA

Funny thing, I seem to learn more talking with my colleagues than sitting in on formal sessions.  Planning our presentation, we came to some insights on how campus dynamics have supported and undermined our push for innovation, for collaboration.  I like to tell myself that I am above such concerns–worrying about how others see me–however, I am growing more aware (in my early 50s) of how important buy in may be for these projects.  How people see me is tied to how they see my project.  This is something I learned long ago about teaching.

And now, we are sitting in a session on social justice in an online classroom.  In three minutes, a presenter just showed an effective tool: http://www.twiddla.com/.  A program or website that opens a whole new level of collaboration.  His tone, his word choice, and his demeanor call for engagement–he is relying on our participation.   His background is early childhood.  However, his strategies would benefit everything from credit classes to departmental meetings.