ACPA’s Standing Committee On Disability

Check out the ACPA’s Standing Committee on Disability:

This was the last identity group to receive its own standing committee within ACPA (committee formed in 2000).  This group works to meet the needs of Student Affairs Professionals with disabilities, Disability Service Providers in Higher Education, and Allies of people with disabilities in student affairs.

This is a great group for anyone who is interested in disability issues, diversity issues, Universal Instructional Design, access issues , and/or inclusion issues.

Check them out!

should we rethink the community college given who attends?

So i read this article a colleague sent me (thanks NJ!!) about community colleges and who’s attending now: Younger, wealthier students pick community college, bringing expectations

Our higher education system operates under the assumption that while community colleges traditionally offer only the first two years of a college curriculum, that curriculum is theoretically equivalent to what  the student would receive from a 4-year institution.  We equate classes through the transfer process to work out the fine details, but in essence, we sell the an image and message to the public that the course work and curriculum you take at John Doe Community College is equivalent what you would take your first two years at Fill-In-The-Blank State University.  At the community college, you get a cheaper tuition rate.  This is a trade off for less than Nobel Prize winning professors, fewer amenities, facilities, and extracurricular activities, and the convenience of location.

I like the idea of encouraging students to use the community college system as a stepping stone to 4-year institutions.  I think that students receive an excellent education in most community colleges which would prepare them for success in most future academic (4-year institutions) and professional settings.  This route to a bachelors degree will save the student thousands of dollars in tuition fees as well.

However, along with this, we need to really examine what we want our community college system to be.  I think we’ve got a few paths we could go down:

Do we want the community college system to truly represent the first two years of a students experiences at a traditional 4-year institution setting?  If so, we need to address not only the curricular needs of students, but also the social and community needs.  As the article suggest, we need to start offering updated exercise facilities, more extracurricular activities like clubs and athletics, and really listen to what the students are asking for.  This has a few drawbacks.  One, more services equal more money.  If one of our big benefits is low tuition, how long can that really last!  Second, what type of 4-year institution are we representing?  A private liberal arts 4-year institution is very different from a large public land grant institution.  Can we really pick?

Do we want the community college system to only represent the course work and curriculum of a 4-year institution?  We could just focus on curriculum to duplicate similar educational experiences within the classroom.  This seems untenable to me though- we already know students want more so why would we offer less?

Do we want something else?  I’m thinking yes.  What if we created a new identity for the system.  Something a little different from the popular image of the community college system to day a little different from a total replica of a 4-year experience?  I think it would make our system even better.  I think it would allow us to address this new influx of students who are choosing to start at the community college first and then move to a 4-year experience.

Each one, teach one

Each one, teach one.  Its not a new concept, or one that’s very difficult to understand.  There’s no hidden meaning behind it.  In fact, its very direct: each one, teach one.

Its kind of empowering isn’t it?  Not only do you have knowledge, but you have the ability to share it! It implies a give and a take relationship between two people about a certain body of knowledge.  Each person with knowledge shares it with another.

So why can’t we set up our classrooms that way?  I mean who really is the teacher at any given moment in time.  Is it someone with designated authority from a centralized administration or is it whoever happens to be sharing knowledge with others?

Sometimes educators focus on the second half of the sentence too much.  They feel the need to be in control, up in front, and everyone learning from them.  But that’s not always going to work.  In fact, there are many times when others will have more knowledge.

Instead of focusing on the the second half of that statement, we as educators need to focus on the whole message in its entirety.  We need to set up learner centered environments were each person in the class becomes a teacher.  Each individual has experiences that will enrich a classroom discussion and brings those to the table.  Instead of one focal point of knowledge, the class has a collective wealth of information to tap into.