We held our faculty “Kick-off the Year” conference yesterday and I would say it was a great success considering it was the first time in many years that we did not hold the conference down at the coast. The focus of the conference was about incorporating various aspects of technology in support of teaching. We had a great keynote speaker in Bill Rankin from Abilene Christian University. His talk “Flights of Discovery: Transformation in Third-Age Education” sufficiently conveyed that we need to change our way of dealing with this Data driven era, “But How”. Plenty of good examples about how students are learning more with real world experience and less in old world classroom lectures. But how might we change this? I pitched the services that my IT department provides for our faculty but we don’t come close to offering the resources that they really need. This video touches on the less obvious.
I listened to our faculty ask great questions about how they might engage or inspire their students. Sure the use of technology could help, especially shifting to a more blended learning approach, but that is not the total answer. My take-away was that we can only do the best we can under the current structure. And by structure I mean classes delivered in a weekly schedule over a semester type period of time. Sure it would be great if our Social Sciences courses could hold class in a homeless shelter in downtown Portland, but that doesn’t work in this structure. So then I contemplated different structures like courses meet for a week at a time a few times through the semester, but that does not work. When you have many students all trying to piece together a schedule that accommodates all their needs and the needs of all the other students and faculty we end up with what we have. What would it take to really shake this up? I’m not sure but I think it may involve tearing down that structure. Maybe redefine what a class is altogether. Yikes, a bit scary but you know, it may be worth exploring.