Postcard From the Innovations Conference

Innovation Conference

The National Convergence Technology Center (CTC) gave a number of presentations at the League of Innovations Conference in National Harbor, Maryland. These national conferences are always a good way to promote the CTC to a wide audience, whether it’s disseminating best practices or sharing resources. But, conferences are a two-way street in that they also allow CTC staff members to attend special keynote presentations and breakout sessions to hear new perspectives on educational topics.

Here are a few highlights…

* One community college energizes its professional development events with unique activities outside of the traditional presentations, such as hosting a selfie booth for social media engagement, using real-time Kahoot polls to connect with the attendees, and booking “opening act” entertainment to run just prior to the formal presentations.

* If 95% of Americans have a smartphone, why should faculty resist that tool in the classroom? Why not use them?  One faculty member uses frequent Kahoot surveys and polls (it seemed like the room was split in two – half use Kahoot all the time, the other half never have) to boost engagement in the classroom.  Specifically, a five question poll is used at the start of every class to quiz students on homework reading.

* A good way to help generate regular blog or newsletter content is to send out questionnaires to students and faculty that, when answered, helps create the article content (e.g. a monthly “student spotlight” section).

* Modularization may be the way of the future in education. MIT recently suggested that the notion of courses may be outdated, replaced by learning modules.

* Being unprepared for community college does not mean one is not talented, but that assumption is often made with incoming students.

* What if every community college faculty and staff meeting included a mandatory discussion of student success stories? That could help remind everyone of the institutional focus on student success.

* Clear, easily understandable degree pathways are essential. If advisors and counselors can get confused with so many variables and classes and tracks, imagine how hard it could be for students.  Design degree pathways with the end in mind – transfer or workforce – and if a class doesn’t fit one of those ends, drop it.  One school reported a boost in completion rates after just simplifying the pathways and offering fewer choices to make it easier on students.

* One school saw increased completion rates when it hired full-time department chairs that could focus solely on the management of the department and service of students rather than also having to teach classes. These chairs were trained on how to best support faculty and lead the department.

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