Last week, I presented at the Mid-Pacific ICT (MPICT) Conference in San Francisco Open Education Revolution: From Open Access to Open Partcipation highlighting new participatory models in open education and hung out with fellow “geek” faculty from community colleges nationwide. We celebrated the founding of the new California ICT Collaborative headed by Pierre Thierry of City College San Francisco. Along with cataloguing ICT offerings statewide to increase efficiency, Olivia Herriford, associate director of MPICT announced the diversity toolkit to encourage non-traditional students to pursue credentials and degrees in ICT.
“Closing the Digital Gap” keynote from Gordon Synder, director of the National Center for Information and Communications Technologies at Springfield Technical Community College in Massachusetts reminded us of the accelerating speed of technology adoption and our need to push content out to our students. Mobile networks are growing faster than broadband access throughout underserved areas in North America and worldwide. A study by Blackboard and Project Tomorrow found that 98% of U.S. students have access to some sort of smart phone. 5.3 billion mobile phone subscriptions were active in 2011 with 90% of worldwide population having some access versus only 2 billion with Internet access. Smart phones sold exceeded PC units worldwide in 2010 and tablets are flooding the market.
Jim Gaston, associate director of Academic Technology, South Orange Community College District and lead for the Sherpa student guidance project issued a mandate for change in his “Higher Education Disruption” keynote. Leading us through numerous examples from other industries, he cited five common threads between higher education and the traditional music industry: centralized control, lack of individualization, inflexible, rising costs, and perceived low ROI. If a college education is simply becoming an expensive check-off, students will go elsewhere. Mentioning Open Courseware offerings and skill-based badges as promising alternatives, he urged us to personalize education making it learner-centered, interactive, participatory, and mobile. Educators can change lives for the better if we listen to students and focus on what makes their lives successful.
Keynotes and other archived presentations are available the California Community College’s CCC Confer project funded through the Chancellor’s office.
Una Daly, Community College Outreach Manager at the Open Courseware Consortium.