Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Competency Based Learning, Canvas LMS and Skamania County

I didn't mean to wait this long between blog posts but Winter quarter got away from me in a big way.  I hope the quarter is going well for you.  I want to update you on three initiatives that may be of interest to you. 

1.  Competency Based Learning and the Coalition of the Willing
This is a provocative initiative happening at the state level that I expect will be of concern to many faculty.  There is a movement at the state level to create a community college version of Competency Based Learning ala Western Governor's University.  It's too early know how this might work at the CC's and there are many issues to resolve.  Meanwhile there are a series of trainings happening statewide with participation from 28 of the CCs.  Clark is participating in these trainings and if you're interested I would be happy to provide more details. 

There is quite a bit of information about competency based learning and WGU at these sites.  The concern centers around the deaggregation of the faculty role.  For example in the WGU model the responsibilities of curriculum design, grading, mentoring and instruction are done by four different faculty.  It's definitely a different model and it's difficult to see how much of this would translate to the CC's but the conversation is taking place.

2.  Canvas LMS
Many of you are aware of the recommendation to switch to the Canvas LMS that was forwarded by the Elearning committee.  I chose not to weigh in because I wanted to hear the conversation and have appreciated the discussion thus far.  To date, the recommendation has been presented to Instructional Council, unit leadership, College Council and Executive Cabinet.  Some of the concerns I've heard are related to the quick implementation timeline,  potential of increased workload and questions about whether Canvas is a better LMS than Moodle. 

Based on what I've seen I believe the switch to Canvas is the right move.  Utilizing an LMS that has been adopted by the majority of higher ed institutions in Washington will benefit our students.  I am confident the Elearning department will be able to migrate your courses with minimal issues and a number of trainings already exist.  I encourage you to voice your opinions about this issue as the decision needs to be made soon.

3.  Clark in Skamania County
Feb 19, President Knight, myself and a few others were invited to attend a forum in Carson, Washington.  The purpose of this forum was to investigate whether there was sufficient interest in offering some classes in Skamania County.  We thought there might be 20 or so individuals and were taken aback with the more than 200 standing room only crowd that attended.  We answered questions for 90 minutes and it is fair to say there is significant enthusiasm for offering limited courses at the Wind River Education Center, a former middle school that is largely vacant.  We will be meeting more to discuss what types of classes and how many to offer but the goal is to offer 1-2 this Spring and go from there.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Block Scheduling and Movember

Block Scheduling
A big thank you to all the Faculty and Staff who came to one of the Block Scheduling forums last week.  Forums were held Thursday on main campus and at CTC.  On Friday one was held at CCW.  Quite a bit of feedback was received and once it's compiled will be sent out to the college.  In brief there is support for the concept but concerns about maintaining MW options for 5 credit classes. 

As I have stated before the purpose for exploring the block schedule is to provide consistent start times to make scheduling easier for students and to gain room efficiencies allowing for the potential development of adjunct office space, testing center and tutoring space. 

There is still one more forum taking place Monday, Nov 19th at 2:00 in GHL 213 Ellis Dunn room. Please come if you are able.  If you can't attend feel free to email me your feedback.   The next step is for Instructional Council to review the feedback and make a determination about whether to proceed this January or look at a pilot option and continue to explore the possibility. 

Class Visits
I had the pleasure of attending Malcolm McKay's Econ 101 and Murali Krishna's Math 095 classes recently.  I appreciate the opportunity to visit classes because I get to see faculty and I always learn something new.  I want to commend Mr. McKay for his excellent use of Pink Floyd's song, Money while students were examining currency from the several countries and the civil war.  During his lecture on currency I also learned the Wizard of Oz may have been written as a critique of the 19th century monetary system.  New information to me! 

Friday was the quarterly Instructional staff meeting.  You may not know that nearly 100 instructional staff are working to make sure we have support for faculty, library, tutoring and other services.  If you get a chance please thank a staff member for all they do to keep instruction running.

Several of you have commented on the growth appearing on my upper lip in the last couple of weeks.  Some have said it's not "a great look for me" and was I planning to keep it long.  One person even said it made me look kind of creepy.  Yikes!  Rest assured it's for a good cause and I will only be growing it until the end of the month.  It's for prostate cancer awareness and the intent is for men to grow mustaches during "Movember" to raise money.  If you would like to know more or are inclined to support the cause you can find out more here.

Product DetailsOn Friday, I was at CCW talking with some of the Nursing faculty when I was asked if I was growing the stache for Movember.  I learned that Nursing Faculty,  Laurie Brown is the President of the Mt. Hood Chapter of the Oncology Nursing Society.  Thank you Laurie for the very educational Illustrated Guide to Cancer book.

As the quarter is coming to a close in a few weeks I want to wish you best wishes during the upcoming break.  I hope you get to spend time with family and friends as well as getting a much needed break.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Instruction Commission Meeting


Everett Community College
November 1-2, I was at Everett College for the Fall Instruction Commission (IC) meeting.  IC is where the VP's of Instruction from all the CC's in Washington get together to discuss issues and make recommendations to the President's Commission.

Enrollments are down about 4% statewide.  At Clark they are down 1% for Fall.  Several possible factors were discussed: increased tuition, students getting jobs and stricter financial aid rules.  Additionally transfer rates from CC's to 4yr Universities are down too.

There is interest from the state in exploring competency based degree options at CC's.  Western Governor's University has been successful with this model for several years.

There is a great deal of interest in Bachelor of Applied Science programs.   Approximately half of the CC's either have or are in the process of getting approval for BAS programs.  Clark is currently exploring BAS options and more discussion needs to happen as they require a great deal of human and financial resources.

Chalkboard illustrationThere was also discussion about CC's offering an Adult High School Diploma as an alternative to the GED test which recently increased to $150.

Finally,  in case you missed them there have been a number of articles about the future of higher ed recently.  Time Magazine published a special report just last week and the Chronicle of Higher Ed published College Reinvented in mid October.  A number of suggestions, models, etc to "save" higher education.  It will be interesting to see which ones gain traction.
 Let me know if you want further information about any of the items in this post.



Monday, October 29, 2012

Let's give this a try.

The purpose of this blog is to provide highlights of my work as Vice-President of Instruction at Clark College in Vancouver, Washington.  My goal in this position is to try and improve communication at the College in as many ways as I am able; this is one method.  My plan is provide regular updates and if you choose please provide comments and/or feedback.  I'm a newbie when it comes to blogging, so fair warning regarding how well this site will turn out.

Clark College professor Dwight HughesOne of the highlights of the past couple of weeks was seeing DNET Professor Dwight Hughes present two excellent lectures.

The first was the Fall Faculty Speaker Series and the topic was Cyber Security.  It was standing room only for this timely lecture.  Here is the link to the preview and I believe the entire lecture will be posted soon.

Secondly, Professor Hughes was the faculty presenter at the October board meeting where he gave a brief lecture on Cloud Computing and the creation of the lab where students are learning this skill.  Both lectures were incredibly relevant and informative.

Angela Lohr - CCHA Conference

I had the opportunity to drop in on the Community College Humanities Association conference in Portland where two of our Faculty, Jennifer Locke Whetham, and Angela Lohr were presenters.  Unfortunately I wasn't able to see Jennifer's presentation.  I did get to see Angela's presentation, "Witches, Mothers, and Whores: Medieval to Modern Persecution of Women."  A highly engaging, and interesting lecture.  Well done Angie!

Shared Governance
In my ongoing pursuit to improve communication I have added two new leadership groups and both met last week.   The first is the Expanded Instructional Council which includes all of the Deans, Directors and Managers, the goal of this group is to discuss strategic initiatives for Instruction.  The second group is the Quarterly Instructional Leadership Team made up of all Department/Division Chairs, Directors and Deans and this group discusses issues of interest to the entire Instructional Unit.  My hope is that both meetings will help improve communication throughout our unit.

Please attend one of the upcoming forums regarding Block Scheduling if you are able.  The purpose of these forums is to get feedback on a possible block schedule format.  Block scheduling could be benefit to students scheduling classes as well as open up rooms for use as a testing center and adjunct offices.

Thursday, Nov. 15 from 1:00-2:00 GHL 213 Ellis Dunn room

Thursday, Nov. 15 at CTC  from 2:30-3:30 p.m. in CTC 148
Friday, Nov. 16 at CCW from 11:00-12 p.m. in CCW 124

Monday, Nov. 19 from 2:00-3:00 GHL 213 Ellis Dunn room

Class Visits
I appreciate the opportunity to sit in on classes when I'm invited and my schedule permits.  I have to say it's one of the great perks of the position.  I get to see excellent teachers in action and as a lifelong learner I get to explore topics that I might not otherwise get to see.  Recently I was privileged to sit on the following courses:

Angie Lohr - Humanities 101
Steven Clark - Biology
Garrett Gregor - Math 151
Becky Engel - American Sign Language 121
Adnan Hamideh - Accounting

Professional Development
Earlier this month I attended a conference in Boston on Completion initiatives and Partnerships for Community Colleges.  I came back with several concepts that I will share as the year goes on.   The picture on the left is part of the course for the Boston Marathon, something I aspire to run some time in the future. 

Front CoverFinally, I've been reading a couple of good books on the subject of innovation in the community college.  The first one, Game Changers:  Education and Information Technologies
is a free download. The second is The Creative Community College:  Leading Change Through Innovation.    Both books offer some provocative ideas and potential models for CC's of the future.

Thanks for reading!  Tim