Thursday, June 25, 2015

ACM Institute on College Futures

Earlier this week, the ACM office hosted the Institute on College Futures here in Chicago.  This was my first opportunity to attend the event and to say it was impressive would be an understatement.  Faculty and administrators from all 14 member campuses attended the institute.  Throughout the two-day event, participants were given information on the following topics:

  • The Economics of Higher Education - Jill Tiefenthaler (President, Colorado College)
  • The Tuition Driven School’s Dilemma - Scott Bierman (President, Beloit College)
  • The Liberal Arts College Financial Model - Michael T. Orr (Krebs Provost and Dean of the Faculty, Lake Forest College)
  • Financial Challenges for the Future - David Wheaton (Vice President for Administration and Finance, Macalester College)

In addition to hearing from experts in the field of higher education finance, participants were also broken out into groups to react and engage about current events and articles surrounding this topic and the sector issue of “why college costs so much.”  The dialogue was robust and impactful at all of the sessions.  Finally, participants were charged with creating specific ways to encourage discussion and continue the conversation on their campuses.  After doing so, they were asked to share with other campuses and then the larger group.

The conversations and discussions revolved around how to show the value of a liberal arts education and demystified what the true cost of attending college is.  Most importantly, however, students and creating an environment that was conducive to learning were at the heart of the discussion.  So, although it was not focused directly on technology, although it did come up as both a cost and a benefit, this allowed me and my colleagues to gain an even deeper understanding of the already rich relationship of collaboration that exists at the ACM.

For more information on the Institute, you can click on the link above.  To see summary videos by the presenters, click here.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Sharing New Ideas

As I approach one year at the Associated Colleges of the Midwest, I can't help but be inspired by the diversity and commitment to learning on member campuses.  While I am perfectly happy to share their stories of technological and pedagogical innovation, faculty development, and student engagement, sometimes it is much better to hear it from those who are involved in the actual projects.

This being said, I will continue to highlight various projects and proposals surrounding technology in teaching and learning, especially with the ramp up and second round of the Faculty and Career Enhancement (FaCE) grant supported by the Andrew Mellon Foundation.  This grant has already supported nine projects since the fall of 2014.  However, it is also important to facilitate even broader communication between ACM member campuses and the higher education community at large.

A way to facilitate this open dialogue is to invite faculty, technologists, librarians, and IT professionals  throughout the ACM to contribute as guest authors to this blog.  This will be a great way to allow those who are involved in projects on each campus and broader collaborations to share information.  I hope this will in turn spark lively discussion and lead to more people wanting to engage on these important issues.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

A Site for Collaboration Born of Collaboration

Beginning with my first round of visits to the 14 campuses that comprise the Associated Colleges of the Midwest, I have been constantly impressed by the level of innovation occurring on the campuses.  As you know, I tend to focus on technology.  However, the absolute commitment to teaching and learning, regardless of modality, is inspiring.  Add to this the determination of taking the small liberal arts college environment into the technological realm and one can see the potential for magical and wonderful things to happen.

Ok, that may sound idealistic and be seen by many as an oversimplification, but I truly believe that seeing technology as a partner to enhance faculty and student engagement is the way forward.  The larger question is how do we enable communication?  How do we share the ideas and experiences that already exist on ACM member campuses?  Part of this has been accomplished through the creation Liaison for Technology in Teaching and Learning to ride the circuit looking for commonalities and potential partnerships throughout the consortium.  However, a more robust approach is needed to expand communication and collaboration.

During that initial round of visits, it was suggested that the ACM create a virtual collaboration space to supplement in-person visits.  This would be a space where ACM faculty, librarians, IT staff, and technologists could engage in open dialogue about the impact of technology on teaching and learning.  Included in this space would be pages that allow the sharing of current initiatives, posing questions for colleagues about future initiatives, recent articles concerning pedagogy and technology, and a list of tools being used by other members of the consortium.  While a good portion of the site would be public, posting to groups, viewing ACM contacts, and adding to the pages is restricted to member institutions.

The Technology in Teaching and Learning site has been created in consultation with the stakeholder groups mentioned earlier.  The design, construction, and now implementation have been highly collaborative and content has been generated at both the ACM office and campus levels.  I am hopeful that the site, in combination with this blog and social media, will further add to the ways in which ACM members can share information and collaborate.  So, check out the site and let us know what you think.  Comments, suggestions, and hopefully additions to the lists and discussions are always welcome.