Building academic community for graduate students has been a goal of the Virginia Tech Graduate School since at least 2002. Universities traditionally have fostered a sense of community for the undergraduate experience but often left the graduate student experience in the hands of the department, the “lab”/team, or the faculty member. In my role as Vice President and Dean for Graduate Education, I have encouraged the VT Graduate School to embrace community as an integral part of graduate education. In 2003, we developed an initiative called Transformative Graduate Education (TGE) with a focus on preparing the future professoriate (PFP). Since then the VT Graduate School has continued to expand and enhance the graduate student experience through building academic community especially through the Graduate Life Center which provides a physical “space and place” for graduate education. Now, that space and place for graduate education must naturally go beyond physical space to the digital world.
As the connectivity and interactivity of the web expands, so must the initiatives and opportunities for higher education to share community, networks and connections. The Connected Courses initiative provides the platform for a “collaborative community of faculty” to explore networked learning, open access and the values of the “open web”. We determined that Connected Courses could also provide a wonderful opportunity to bring the faculty and the future faculty together in conversation about active co-learning at VT. To expand our efforts in transforming graduate education, graduate students must be in the conversation about embracing change and to foster futurisktic thinking (web 2.0, social media).
The dialogue begins. Please join us.