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Learning-Centered Update November 1, 2013

Office of the President

Greetings all,

Student Success, Empowering Employees, and Engaging and Investing in our Community are the core College Goals from which we are propelled toward our vision of Positive Social Change. This edition of What’s on My Mind? will focus on a powerful and necessary lever  to realize our goals – bringing learning alive.

If you question whether or not it is critical to be organizationally vigilant and committed to bringing learning alive in order to stay relevant in the learning marketplace, think deeply about these two examples: 1) the growing and dynamic free online learning opportunities available  through innovative web sites and Apps, and 2) the significant changes in how the business world operates, especially in the entrepreneurial small business sector.

Free learning -  anytime, anyplace -  is rampant and the quality is ever improving. See this post at the Imgur Album. If these sites are not academic enough, check out Coursera. Additional examples were shared at an Apple seminar I attended this week. The Apps demonstrated covered the gamut of all academic subjects. For an amazing example, check out any of the Apps powered by the Harvard Medical School.

If the online learning world is not dynamic enough, let’s turn to the world of business. To illustrate here is an excerpt from an October 14, 2013 New Yorker article entitled “Bay Watched: How San Francisco’s New Entrepreneurial Culture is Changing the County.”

“…once an entrepreneur would go to a venture capitalist for funding necessary for hardware costs, software costs, marketing, distribution, customer service, sales…now there are online alternatives…hardware – no you just {lease space from} Amazon or Rackspace…software…it is all open source…distribution can now be done through the App Store or Facebook…sales and marketing – Google, Adworks or AdSense…so the start up cost went from one million to fifty thousand…”

Is the MCCCD curriculum keeping up with these changes in the world of business? Are our students engaged in critical thinking about the role and function of free and open source business tools?

I recently attended a conference where Bill Gates opined on this changing, dynamic learning environment. In essence he said that the community colleges are perfectly positioned to integrate MOOCs, tools such as the Kahn Academy, and amazingly sophisticated Apps into the face-to- face, classroom learning environment. He convincingly argued that learning remains a social enterprise and that learning can be enhanced with this hybridization and integration of new technological platforms. Gates was suggesting that adoption of technology does not just substitute existing tools, but will also redefine learning creating new learning tasks previously inconceivable.

PVCC brings learning alive as exemplified by our implementation of Open Educational Resources (OER) tools, our innovative use of technology in our health sciences facility, and learning support tools such as PAWS and iGoal. Let’s work to sustain, scale the use, and enhance these teaching and learning tools.

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Paul A. Dale, Ed.D