The Spring Plenary session will take place on April 18 - 20, 2013 at the Westin San Francisco airport. Early registration is open now through April 5, 2013.
I’m particularly excited by our theme this time–“Rising to the Challenge: Responding to Disruptive Forces.” We wanted a positive tone to our theme but we also wanted to reflect the fact that, as so often is the case, we are dealing with multiple pressures and often pressures that effectively conflict. We’ve been feeling some of the identified “pressures” for quite some time and others are relatively new. The five “disruptive forces”, as identified by Jeff Selingo, Editor at Large at the Chronicle of Higher Education are:
- Demographics – diversity, lack of preparation, swirling
- “Sea of red ink” – costs of education for families, lack of state funding
- Improved alternatives
- Value – what does a degree really mean? What is getting a degree going to mean for me?
We have already been focusing on completion and meeting the needs of our varied populations as we have worked towards implementing the Student Success Task Force recommendations. The issue of “improved alternatives” is one that has received far more attention than it probably deserves as the excitement around massive open online courses (“MOOC”s) has resulted in an over-emphasis on identifying alternative mechanisms for unit accumulation. And this creates concerns about the meaning of a degree as interest in “access” and efficiency have resulted in a focus on the awarding of units as opposed to the process of education. While credit by exam is an existing mechanism for awarding students course credit for having demonstrated achievement of a course’s objectives, is this an approach to “completion” that we can endorse and that students are seeking? If a student earns a college degree by only taking the minimum of 12 units of residency that are required in regulation, can we be confident that the student has achieved the outcomes we expect from our degree completers? We’re looking forward to discussing these issues and much more with you.
See you in San Francisco!
Michelle Pilati, Ph.D.