Archive for October, 2015

University Scam?

Posted: October 20, 2015 in Uncategorized

Canada has some internationally recognized post-secondary institutions. On the other hand, there are many schools in Canada that are considered a scam and are gaining poor reputations abroad.

Recently, Everest College in Ontario closed it’s doors due to financial concerns. CBC’s investigation showed that students and faculty thought the operation was flawed, allowing students ample opportunity to pass exams, despite not being qualified to do so. Everest College is one of 543 private career colleges in Ontario.

This brings up questions about “Diploma Mill’s” and how Canada’s lack of accreditation systems mean that schools are operating without transparent accountability. International students are especially vulnerable, often not understanding the difference between private and public institutions or the accreditation process.

Ontario has made changes to the Private Career Colleges Act, however federal legislation should be implemented. No student, or instructor should be the victim of a for-profit institution’s desire to take advantage of the learning environment. While there are many institutions doing a wonderful job preparing students for their careers, it’s important that we blow the whistle on schools that dont make the grade.


Life Long Learning

Posted: October 19, 2015 in Uncategorized

When thinking about lifelong learning as a professional, isnt it essential to start with the basics? How do we learn to learn?

What a concept. The idea struck me that I never have been given the tools to learn how to learn. Never has an instructor spent the time to make me think about Metacognition or learning habits. I dont believe that I’ve ever asked myself these questions either. It’s been an interesting introduction into thinking about thinking. Now helping others think about thinking.

A video that resonates with me is from a Tedx Talk. Learning How to Learn from Barbara Oakley spends time to break down this concept and how people can be successful. She speaks about procrastination… an area I am all to familiar with. When reflecting on her suggestions of the Pomodoro Technique, I realized I do this in my office environment. Why not in an academic sense?

Maybe I should be spending some more time thinking about thinking (and not procrastinating thinking about thinking!)

Another group project?

Posted: October 17, 2015 in Uncategorized

At BCIT, my classmates and I would cringe every time a group project was assigned. We knew that inevitably this would lead to late meetings, disorganized work and the inequitable distribution of labour. I used to think that this was just a painful way for instructors to reduce their marking load.

Looking at it now, there is a “learning community” aspect to these dreaded projects which has a higher intellectual purpose. These projects were meant to push people together as a community, working towards common goals. This helped me make connections with students and work towards a collaborative project. This also meant that I was engaging in active learning and even using the “higher order learning strategies of elaboration, comprehension monitoring and critical thinking”. (Elizabeth Barkley, “Student Engagement Techniques” pg. 26 2010 John Wiley& Sons)

I guess all those group projects were helpful. Now as an instructor, when students complain about doing a group project, I will remind them that “its for your own good!”

Grumpy Cat

Resistance to Learning

Posted: October 11, 2015 in Uncategorized

Brookfield writes:

“Many college-aged learners who have managed to negotiate a path to higher education have previously been told they’re too dumb for college”. They’ve suffered persistent sarcasm, systematic humiliation and peer ridicule for their apparent lack of intelligence or commitment”

I read this statement a few times. Can you imagine getting into College, selecting your courses and arriving to class, while fighting the imposter syndrome of not feeling you are smart enough to be there? I wanted to argue against this point, and say that very few students would feel “too dumb” for College, but I am sure Brookfield is correct in this assertion.

I remember taking math in University. A pre-requisite for my program, I did not feel smart enough to be in the program. I didnt think that I could ever succeed in math. I told myself I was too dumb, even sharing with my classmate beside me that I wasnt smart enough to be in the class. Guess what? I failed. Miserably. By telling myself I wasnt smart enough for the course, I proved it. When I took the course again, I had a better outlook and received 86%.

Sometimes hearing “you’re too dumb” from yourself or others will make you believe it, even when it’s not true.

I watched Boyhood the other day. In this movie, the Mom brings home her students for a party in her home. The students played guitar, told stories, drank wine, ate food. In one scene, a student is even in her son’s room. Later, the instructor develops a relationship and starts living with one of her students.

It made me wonder how friendly is too friendly?

This Article by Brian West speaks to this dilemma. The landscape has changed where instructors can be friends with students, as this can increase engagement. I dont know if you need to have cocktail parties, but chatting to students about their lives, attending campus events and maybe even sharing a meal in the cafeteria should not be seen as a bad thing. Where it does cross the line is when favourtism exists. Or, like Boyhood depicts… dating a student!

Where to from here…?

Posted: October 10, 2015 in Uncategorized

My 3260 Assignment is to comment on where I am professionally and where I see myself in five years. I am currently sitting in sweatpants covered in pureed carrots that my 6 month old flung at me. Maternity Leave has been amazing so far, but sometimes I forget that there is a professional side to me. That side is taking a breather to be the CEO of baby Declan.

The PIDP program has been a rewarding project during nap time. Once I finish the program in early 2016, I would like to get my name out to the Hospitality programs locally and start teaching part time. Balancing my passion for HR and Hospitality, I know I would love to teach courses that encompass the two. Luckily there are fantastic diplomas and degrees for students who want to major in Tourism, but need to learn HR as well. Jackpot!

In addition to the PIDP, I will volunteer my time in classrooms at Capilano University, Douglas College, VCC and any other school that will have me! I will also begin a Masters of Arts in Leadership in January 2016. This will help me get to the next level for me personally in a subject area I find fascinating.

For now, I will focus on teaching my baby the basic skills… like holding a spoon. In the next five years? There are so many roads to take, and I cant wait to see where they lead me.

Diversity… but how?

Posted: October 9, 2015 in Uncategorized

Diversity in the classroom is ever present and hard to ignore. Like Brookfield mentions, there are different cultural, gender, personality, and learning elements involved. He has some great tools to ensure that instructors are “mixing modalities”, team teaching or diversifying the student groups.

Yet one tool had me very confused. He states “One common exercise is to ask students to name themselves by describing the racial or ethnic groups they see themselves belonging to, and to announce how they wish to be addressed”. Whhhhhat?! Would students in today’s classroom in Vancouver, Canada want to participate in this? What does this achieve? How does this benefit the learning environment?

Another tool is the “circle of objects exercise in which each student brings in an object she feels says something about her culture and family history and then talks about its meaning in her life”. Again, this had me shaking my head. A cultural show and tell? There are very few times I can see this as appropriate in an academic setting.

I am in agreement that there are ways to work with the diversity in the classroom, but I think Brookfield’s ideas are a little misguided. What are your thoughts?