Weeks 15 and 16 in review

The last 2 weeks have been fairly consumed by our upcoming co-development week with the University of Guadalajara folks and the institutional audit team I’m working with for Small Ontario College.

Institutional Quality Assurance and Accreditation Audit:  I spent last week in small town Ontario doing a fairly intense site visit with an audit team that involved meeting students, faculty, program committees, services, instructors, Deans, and the executive.  It’s my understanding that Ontario is the only province to conduct mandatory quality assurance audits with its 25 colleges every 5 years, and as of September 2015 this process will now also be one that includes accreditation.  I left convinced that this is coming soon to BC, given all the recent interest in curriculum and outcome mapping and expanding attention to international students, who generally like to enrol in accredited institutions.  When this lands, there will need to be some rethinking about the resources this activity requires, and to be quite honest, I’m not sure there are enough resources currently in the system to allow institutions to do this properly, at the expense of other activities.

For starters, teaching and learning centres play a huge role in a quality assurance/accreditation process, and it is so significant that institutions would be left with a decision to build up these resources or to substitute priorities.  In our own centre, where we have devoted most of our focus to technology-enhanced learning and teaching and innovation, we would have to shift this priority.  This isn’t necessarily good or bad, but with current resourcing smaller institutions would likely be left with a choice–to pursue quality assurance or to pursue innovation.  I suspect that QA processes create a reactive ed tech environment, since there aren’t, in the 3 processes I’ve seen, rewards for creating innovative teaching and learning, which is often initially messy and opportunistic.  On the other hand, the Ontario QA process does facilitate the development of really good student services and support.   The Small Ontario College I visited serviced 7 very small town campuses and had an impressive and seamless, equitable student service across all of those sites.

I also  learned a lot about the Ontario system which is massive–25 colleges, 20 universities.  There seemed to be a lot more money in the system (good thing) but on the other hand I was surprised to learn how independent each college is, resulting in duplication of infrastructure and services across a massive system.  And from what I could see in my short time, the Ontario college system could learn a lot from BC’s open textbook and open initiatives, especially where the French colleges (2) and universities (2) are concerned, where translation of textbooks and materials from English already incurs a bigger expense on the part of the students.

University of Guadalajara visit:  I’m thrilled that we are bringing @cogdog down to Guadalajara with us next week, where he will be madly building a wordpress platform for our project while myself and a JIBC Dean work with the Mexico team on the content and structure.

Open Ed 2015 proposal submitted–this year we are going to do an investigation of student experiences with the open textbooks we’ve implemented, along the lines of this post on Finding the problems that OERs solve.

Watched the recording of Brian and Alan’s presentation at Open Ed week.  Appreciated the shout out  to JIBC work–it makes sense to (most of) us, but sometimes you start wondering if you’re crazy in thinking it’s so simple.  Fortunately so far, WordPress courses have been simple for us, until you start making them less simple.

And of course, been pondering about the Linked In/Lynda Big News.  Most institutions don’t see Lynda as a threat to their activities, but with my interest in the micro learning space, I most definitely saw it as one. If I was a Continuing Ed department at a college or university, I’d be more likely breathing some relief about the acquisition and I do wonder about all those BC institutions that provide Lynda licenses for students–what would FIPPA say?

Things that Wow’d me:  I’ve started following @surface_design  and lots of good stuff is showing up in my stream.  This week I was awed by Who Knew Dude Quilters Were So Dope? Check out some of those artists, you won’t be disappointed.

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