Sunday, December 16, 2007

CIT 2007 - Some Final Thoughts

It's taken me a while to get to this point - my last post about CIT 2007. This has been partially due to returning to a busy job, and partially due to some obvious inertia on my part. But the single biggest reason why it has taken me this long to get there is that there was just so much to absorb and reflect upon.

CIT 2007 was an amazing experience on many levels. I met some very cool people who had some amazing things to share - and that was probably one of the coolest things about the conference - how willing people were to share and talk about what the were doing - there was a great collaborative spirit throughout.

I also learned a lot about myself , the community college "industry" in North America, and about my own institution as well. For myself I confirmed that I am well immersed in all things Web 2.0 and learner and learning-centred, more than I realized - several of the presentations were at the introductory level, discusing isues of implementation and engaging learners. This may explain why in some circles I may be considered "weird".I need to keep an eye on that one...

As for the state of the community college "industry" I found that most colleges have the same issues - retention, engagement and how to reach the current generation of learners. While there were no perfect answers at CIT 2007 for these problems, it was nice to know that we were not alone in going through them and that it appears to be a phenomenon right across North America. The other good thing is that many are trying to find solutions, and the solutions seem to hinge on the following - engagement, collaboration, mobility and openness (much more on these themes in later posts).

And the thrd piece is that here at NSCC we are doing some great things - portfolio learning, education without boundaries, access, service learning, project-based learning, and many other educational innovations. We need to be better and do more on the blended side of things - to move towards what Mark Milliron called "blurring blended" - a model where 15-20% or learners are entirely online, 15-20% are entirely in brick classrooms, and the remainder are blended learners taking a mixture of online and classroom courses. I truly believe that blended learning is the furure - it meets learners where they are - the engagement and mobility pieces, along with the openness. CIT 2007 also confirmed fo me that learning is now a collaborative function - there is simply too much information and too many sources for a learner to successfully navigate their education in anything but a collaborative environment.

So, all in all, CIT was a great opportunity and presented me with several confirmations and challenges. It confirmed that I am on the right track as an educator and challenged me to realize that the journey is just beginning that we as educators must continue to evolve and adapt to provide the learning environments and opportunities that will provide learners with the best possible chances for success. The next few years in adult education are going to be very exciting, and who knows - I may even become less weird,a s others catch on and catch up...

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