Everyone in higher education at last understands that important components of “the public”—state and federal officials, nongovernmental accrediting bodies, and prospective students and their parents—expect a college to cite compelling evidence that students learn a great deal at that institution. Officials who are most eager to make evidence available believe students will enroll only in colleges demonstrating that their graduates experience impressive intellectual growth over four years.
Leaders from 16 community colleges around the country gathered at the White House in September to participate in a roundtable discussion on the role community colleges play in America. The discussion was part of the Obama administration’s Champions of Change program, a weekly initiative to highlight Americans who are making an impact in their communities and helping to meet the many challenges of the 21st century. Education Gateways recently spoke to four of the Champions of Change honorees about the challenges and opportunities they face as presidents of their institutions.
While the rest of the working world uses summer as a time to decamp to waterfront locales, college and university officials take advantage of quieter campuses to catch up on projects and prepare for the return of students. At Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston, summer activities include training student leaders.
Blackboard, the ubiquitous online course-management tool, is a valuable resource for faculty, staff, and administrators alike. However, its learning outcomes are only as good as the quality of material that faculty members use to build all of their courses on the back end—a typically lengthy process. So when Regent University (Va.) officials decided to add an undergraduate business major and approached the school’s Center for Teaching & Learning in April 2008 to develop and deploy 40 online courses over the next year, CTL staff knew they had to find a different way of doing things.
Most people go to Disney to relax and have fun. For the past three years, David Zanolla, a communication instructor at Western Illinois University, has taken students in his Disney World Communication Culture course to see the principles they learn about in class in action. "The people who needed the most convincing were the parents," he says, adding that the spring break timeframe is usually thought of as party time. But with a daily schedule of 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., students have a full plate.
The word “class” really doesn’t do justice to what medical students attend in the newly renovated lecture theatre at Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada.
“It’s a production, which is so much better,” said Ed Hipditch, manager of classroom technologies with Memorial University’s Distance Education, Learning and Teaching Support (DELTS) department. “Students walk in and say ‘Wow!’ The wow factor is important when educating someone. It’s not just someone scribbling on a chalkboard.”
Stockton College and the FAA Tech Center are geographically close in New Jersey, but intellectually even closer thanks to their shared interest in technology, research, and collaboration. These collective pursuits led experts at the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey to design and install a high-tech classroom at the Federal Aviation Administration's William J. Hughes Technical Center, which is located about 15 minutes from the school's campus.
Veterinary students who once huddled together to observe a surgeon's intricate moves now have another learning option at the University of Florida. There, AMX technology allows students near and far to have a bird's eye view of every small step of a procedure.
Most colleges and universities attending EduComm send one or two, sometimes three, people to the conference. Last June, Life University (Ga.) sent seven of its administrators and faculty to learn from the breakout sessions and see the latest higher education technology on the EduComm exhibit floor.
EduComm 2011 was a big success. Big in many ways. In addition to a record-setting attendance (more than 900 registered), EduComm 2011 had the biggest exhibit floor it has ever had, with more than 40 exhibitors.
Big, but not too big.
That's what we keep hearing from attendees. They tell us they like that EduComm is growing, but they also caution us not to grow too big. They fear we'll lose the intimacy and camaraderie that is evident in a conference our size. That's important to us.
Students love lecture capture. Also enamored are administrators and faculty with active systems. Surveys and data collected from various institutions have shown it improves engagement and student outcomes. Just one example: Of first year medical students involved in the Mediasite pilot program at Penn State Hershey Medical Center, 88 percent agreed the system helped them achieve their educational goals.
If you haven’t made your plans yet for EduComm 2011, let me take this opportunity to tell you about the variety of fast-paced, information-packed breakout sessions scheduled for attendees. Covering a range of topics from learning technology and social media to enrollment strategies and leadership issues, the sessions are designed to inform and enlighten all decision makers at colleges and universities about the changes, challenges and solutions, that higher education must confront today and in the coming years.