I've been home from NISOD 2008 now for six days now and I've had some time to reflect on the experience. What did NISOD 2008 do for me? What did I get out of attending NISOD 2008 and how will it influence me and how I do my job over the next few months?
All great questions that I need to answer in order to take in the NISOD experience. I'd like to compare it to my attendance at STLHE 2007, a very similar conference focussed on teaching and learning being held this year at the University of Windsor.
Both conferences were about teaching and learning - at NISOD 2008 I got to see the issues and concerns of the U.S. community colleges and realized that we share many of the same issues with engagement and retention, with literacy and numeracy, and with reaching our current generations of learners. I also came to see that there are many differences between us and the U.S. based community colleges - teaching chairs, more adjunct faculty, less learning and teaching resources and that we are doing a good job at NSCC meeting the needs of our learners and supporting faculty and staff. I saw many of the exact same issues at STLHE, so these issues are not isolated or restricted to one country - they are in many ways systemic issues that we all must address.
At NISOD I got to listen to, meet, and talk with (briefly) to Vincent Tinto, who is to me the expert on engaging and retaining learners, particularly in that critical first semester of their college experience. I will take away a lot of what he presented and incorporate it in my practice. If you are an educator who is at all concerned about engagement and retention take a look at Tinto's work.
I got to spend a great two hours listening to Ron Berk talk about and demonstrate the use of humour and multimedia in the millennial classroom - check out his work too - it will add a lot to what you can do in your classrooms and online spaces.
I got to sit in on other good presentations that I have already posted about, all of which have given me ideas that should make me better at what I do. I met some amazing people, go to hang out with several colleagues from NSCC, and even got some shopping and sight-seeing in!
I have taken away from NISOD that we are doing a good job at NSCC and that we need to celebrate that more - one way that I can do that is to go back to conferences like NISOD and STLHE, but the next time go back as a presenter, sharing what it is that makes us who we are at NSCC...