By Katherine Garcia
The board of trustees, vice chancellors and college presidents learned Saturday ways to update the curriculum to match advances in technology in a special board meeting and retreat at St. Philip’s College led by motivational speaker Ian Jukes.
Jukes, director of the InfoSavvy Group, is a former educator who has written or co-written 14 books and worked with 500 school districts to help them make education relevant.
According to an email from Dr. Thomas Cleary Wednesday, the district paid Lecture Management Inc. $12,000 for Juke’s appearance and travel expenses for two days.
On Friday, Jukes led a two-hour session for faculty, staff and administrators at St. Philip’s College, four trustees attended.
“What do we need to do to get them prepared for tomorrow?” he said Saturday.
He said when creating curriculum, it is important to think of how it will impact students in the future.
The future of the post-secondary institution involves blended learning using tools such as massive open online courses and digital textbooks, he said.
Massive open online courses are Internet courses that can be accessed by anyone through the Internet. They often are developed by companies rather than universities.
To emphasize curriculum importance, he asked participants to look at three time periods 2001, 2014 and 2026.
He divided them into groups and asked them to name for each time periods popular music groups, political figures, new technologies and determine what drives the economy. He also asked them to think about what classrooms, teaching, learning and assessment look like.
He said the answers for each question would be different except for what the classrooms and teaching, learning and assessment looked like.
Jukes said this is the area that demands the most change but is not receiving it.
After Jukes’ session, Northwest Vista College English Adjunct Natalia Treviño showed portfolios her students made using www.bluehost.com/cgi/spoke.
The site, which is free for student use, also lets students post blogs, create an online résumé and work on class assignments.
Said Fariabi, math and computer science chair of this college, delivered a presentation on the Math Pass program, saying 48 percent of students taking it advanced two levels in math.
Northeast Lakeview College biology Professor Karla Kosub presented a service learning program, a six-hour internship at a hospital, for BIOL 2401, Anatomy and Physiology, students.
The trustees, the vice chancellors and presidents discussed ways to implement changes.
District 1 trustee Joe Alderete said the board wants to listen to what the staff, administrators and colleagues have to say.
“If we don’t change our attitude, it will be very difficult for the board to change its ways,” Alderete said.
He said the student is the most precious resource the colleges have.
“The focus of the student by this board has just escalated,” he said. “How do we make it better for them to be more successful?”
Alderete said in June 2010 when he joined the board, trustees spent 10-15 minutes at meetings on students.
“Now we talk from an hour to two hours, and our focus is the students,” he said.
“Faculty are playing a greater role in helping teach students more effectively,” he said. “We’re listening to what the students’ needs are.”
Alderete said he is trying to understand students’ and faculty’s opposition to EDUC 1300, Learning Framework, and the instructional materials policy.
He said a methodology is being applied in choosing the single book per course for all five colleges.
He said faculty wanted to pick a book for each class, but picking one as the best instructional material across the five Alamo Colleges is the best strategy.
“If there’s a better way of doing it, shouldn’t we all do it?” he said. “Everybody should be getting the best of the best.”
Alderete said the Super Senate’s opposition was based on old ideas. The Super Senate is composed of representatives of Faculty Senates at the five colleges.
Chancellor Bruce Leslie said the proposals are going to improve the learning process.
“To stop something that will enhance our students will be counter-productive,” he said.
Besides the Super Senate’s opposition, Northwest Vista liberal arts freshman Alexis Morrow started a petition against the proposal.
Morrow delivered more than 1,500 signatures to the board Tuesday and said she will continue to circulate the petition. She also started an online petition at www.ipetitions.com/petition/petition-to-stop-the-instructional-material.