Distance Learning Training and Resources for Educators

Journal Entry from July 24th rethink

Sitting in my hotel room with my bags packed and ready to head back to North Carolina, I have a few minutes to digest the varied issues that were addressed at this Noel-Levitz conference that dramatically impact educational institutions from every state in the country.

2009_0317_shutterstock_cable_recessionThe number one issue is the economic downturn and how it’s impacting educational institutions throughout America. I walk away from the conference more positive about this challenge than negative because of the way conference presenter’s framed it and turned it around to be an opportunity for positive change and growth rather than an insurmountable hurdle.

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I also feel good about the presentation Title III Project Director Don Staub and I gave the first morning of the conference. We had very positive feedback and participation from our audience. Sharing the strides we’ve made at Carteret Community College made me realize that our efforts are paying off and the grant has been a catalyst for changing the culture of the college for the better when it comes to technology, distance learning, outcomes and assessment of all we do.

Considering I was out of my element at a conference that concerned marketingtexas3 and retention rather than distance learning, I was pleasantly surprised at the excellent quality of the presentations and how I learned no matter what area of education your in, whether that be faculty, staff and/or administration we are all facing the same challenges and grappling with rapidly changing instructional delivery technologies and student demographics that no longer fit the mold we as educators created decades ago.

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One thing is certain. We can no longer conduct business the same way with the same outdated models. We have to be willing to completely and totally rethink how we offer our instructional services to our students. These are students that are very VERY different than the students that attended our colleges 10, 15, 20 years ago. They communicate differently, socialize differently, learn differently and think about their education and careers very differently, and this reality in itself demands that we rethink how we serve and teach them.

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I for one am excited about the challenges ahead, however as I consider some strategies for overcoming these hurdles I think about the bureaucratic road blocks and archaic mindsets we must break through in order to seriously compete and grow in this ever changing, dynamic global economy, where students shop for the best services and colleges online and no longer have to attend the institution in their geographical region thanks to online education. That seems to be one of our biggest challenges as educational institutions. To change the culture and attitudes about education and how we conduct business – because it is no longer business as usual.

innnvjpgMany colleges still use the outdated and archaic industrial revolution model to teach their students. This approach for the most part is no longer viable and one of the first things we must take a good hard look at when rethinking how we operate and deliver instruction. We should also take a hard look at the nine to five, Monday – Friday work week. Is this still viable? I walk away from this conference realizing that absolutely everything we do should be on the table for reevaluation. There should be no sacred cows during this process of self examination.

We have an excellent opportunity to rethink how we operate, streamline, and begin retooling all aspects of our college services and instructional modalities. Unfortunately instructional technologies (and our students) are changing at a must faster rate than we can change so their must be a sense of urgency about our ability to compete and remain viable in this dynamically digital and wired world we find ourselves in.

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We should be soul searching and asking ourselves some questions. How are we communicating to our students? How are we marketing to them? How are we delivering our services to them? Do we go to them or expect them to come to us. Is our web site visually dynamic and interactive? Are we exploring the potential of social networks as a way to be more proactive in meeting our students needs? There are many questions to ask and we may not have all the answers and solutions right away, BUT if we don’t start seriously asking these questions at our institutions we are going to (in the not to distant future) find ourselves losing touch with the very market that sustains us.

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Comments on: "Noel-Levitz Conference Debrief" (12)

  1. Fran Emory said:

    Patrick, I cannot agree more about rethinking our processes and products. One of the things that impressed me at the conference is the dramatic movement to social networking techniques. While it feels overwhelming, I do believe that we must start the conversation.

  2. […] today’s tech-savvy students.  I’ll let Patrick discuss this in greater detail over on the DL Blog in his conference debrief.   Finally, I also heard a lot about Developmental Education (particularly math) and its role in […]

  3. Yes Fran all this can be overwhelming, but if we are going to remain viable and competitive as an educational institution we must do our best to stay abreast of the changes in communication and technology – especially when it comes to reaching out to students. There is no doubt we must get a dialogue going at CCC about all these issues.

  4. Carla Williams said:

    I agree it is time to rethink our teaching strategies. So many say “This is how I have always done it” ! The world is changing rapidly and we as educators should be in the forefront of this change. I would love to be in on this conversation. I am implementing changes to mny classes that include videoconferencing to review for exams, blogging and Skype for office hours. There are many things we could and should be doing to update the education that CCC provides.

  5. “This is how I’ve always done it” is no longer valid nor acceptable Carla in this ever changing technological world we live in. Incorporating new and dynamic communications tools in our classes and in how we interact, teach and provide services to our students is important if we as educational institutions want to remain competitive and viable. Skype is an excellent way to conduct office hours – I use it as well.

  6. Laurie Freshwater said:

    The bottom line is that we need to engage students in the educational process by employing the methodology that best suits the content and the student population. It is diconcerting to me when instructors critisize our students for using the technology that has been marketed to them by the adults that have created the technology. Instructors should incorporate these tools into the learning process to create an effective learning experience.

  7. Johnny Underwood said:

    I have and always have been in on the cutting edge of faculty innovation and especially advances in teaching and LEARNING ( including DL)- what frankly both scares and exhausts me are the time and form of compensation issues that can never seemed to be discussed while we advise, market, innovate, and teach ourselves to “near” burnout ( especially in the time of budget constraint and low budget growth). I love the creativity, change, and meeting our students where they are (hence that is why I have taught online for over 10 years now, have and participate personally on social networking sites, and was a stage one DL pioneer at CCC)- but I also know that this reformation of ideas and teaching must be carefully thought out and planned. For example, last week I attended a POGIL workshop for ACA and the QEP- this will be a wonderful step for us, yet we must realize the time it takes to write and learn to facilitate effective POGIL for the classroom and to train others in this process. I guess I feel this way- Love to be on top of things, but not for things to be on TOP of me! My thoughts!

  8. I understand what you are saying Johnny and agree 100% that the reformation of ideas and changing policy and procedures needs to be well thought out, researched and planned. It is a bit overwhelming, however one thing is certain based on all my research and hearing what is going on at other colleges around the country. If we don’t adapt (at all levels of our institutions)to the changing culture we will soon become obsolete and will not be able to compete effectively with other more proactive and technologically savvy colleges – therefore losing students – FTE and then positions. It is a matter of survival in my opinion. Not only for colleges, but for our individual careers. With that said the first step is to start the conversation and that is what we are doing here on the blog and eventually (hopefullY in a larger forum in a more structured meeting with representatives from across the campus.

  9. Let me say first and foremost, the benefits of this conference were expanded geometrically by the fact that four of us had attended, divided, and conquered the variety of sessions. Specifically, I’m glad that Patrick (and in some cases, Fran) were our DL/Tech eyes and ears, while Laurie and I were able to cover some of the less sexy conversations around retention, retention, and retention. [in a bit of shameless self-promotion, check out my wrap-up of the conference at: http://ccctitle3.wordpress.com/2009/07/27/notes-from-the-noel-levitz-retention-conference/%5D. But to Patrick’s points, I believe he did a great job of taking the pulse of the conversation across the conference. Keep in mind, this is a conference about recruitment, marketing, and retention. And no matter which of these issues you are charged with improving at the institution, technology MUST be an important part of the conversation. And, while we have a ways to go (some of us are still trying to get a grip on our first lives…forget about the second ones!), Patrick deserves a medal of honor for constantly forcing these issues to the forefront and stimulating us to not only discuss, but act upon these technological challenges. Less than two years back, at a division directors meeting, someone brought up the term “blog” and with all the guffaws it elicited, you would have thought that someone had sat on a whoopee cushion. This is not the case anymore. I’m excited to see where our movers and shakers take us next in the realm of technology and instruction. Thanks for blazing the trail Patrick!

  10. I appreciate the kudos Don. I believe a big part of all this is changing the culture at CCC. Creating a heightened awareness so to speak about how technology and especially social networks are impacting retention, marketing, advising and of course distance learning. We see it happening at educational institutions around the country. It is happening very rapidly at come places and slowly at others. Either way it has to happen if educational institutions are to remain competitive in this digital age we live in. I am just trying to make more of our faculty and staff aware of these changes and how we can best address them to best serve our students. As I have mentioned before…students that come to us with different expectations than 5 – 10 years ago. Students who use different forms of communication and in many cases have different learning styles. With that said…we all need to be engaged in an ongoing conversation about these issues and be willing to change (alter) some of the ways do business based on the needs of the demographics we are seeing arrive at our doors for services. Its a matter of being more proactive I think – like I said…they no longer have to come to CCC just because he/she lives in Beaufort or MC. Let’s keep the dialogue going.

  11. Here’s something else I think we need to consider….we sound like a bunch of anthropologists conducting field research on this intriguing tribe known as “the students.” We observe, conjecture, and publish. I know that faculty, by virtue of observing this tribe on a regular basis, have some good ideas about how they act. But I really believe we need an on-going dialogue with our students, about these (and many other) issues. I also believe we should do a better job at engaging our students in the conversation (get them on our committees; have a standing focus group…turn it into a tv show)…not just observing them and thinking we understand.

  12. As we say in Ireland….BRILLIANT!

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