Teachers become learners at Walls Optional conference
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May 13, 2011
Student engagement is the Holy Grail for educators because, when engaged intellectually, physically, culturally, socially and emotionally, students really do transcend to a new level of academic achievement. It's only through learner engagement that difficult skills are mastered—abstract concepts become tangible; literacy and networking skills reach a professional level for career entry and advancement.
Such engagement doesn't happen by accident. It takes a college-wide commitment to the principles of educational excellence, and the active pursuit of the most effective teaching tools and techniques available. By providing professional development opportunities like the fifth annual Walls Optional conference, Camosun encourages instructors to network, share winning teaching strategies, and discover new ways to engage a diverse and savvy student population.
At the Walls Optional conference, the teachers became the learners, seeking out their own engagement and enlightenment from keynote speaker Dr. Tony Bates and workshops facilitated by exceptional Camosun faculty and local educators.
In his keynote address, Bates explored the implications of a recent article published in The Futurist magazine, which predicts, "The notion of class time as separate from non-class time will vanish...The next generation of college students will be living wherever they want and taking many (if not all) of their courses online."
Technology in the classroom: it's a fine balance
One quandary facing colleges and universities today is when to use new technology to enhance student engagement, and when to rely on traditional methods. For the best student outcomes, instructors must expand their teaching and technology repertoires so they can choose the right approach, whether the classroom is virtual or face-to-face. It's an ongoing quest. Camosun's librarian Sybil Harrison says, "Students who are exposed to new technologies in the classroom develop concurrent competency in technology AND subject content. It's another form of hands-on learning that prepares our graduates for tomorrow's workplace."
Conference chair Nancy Sly says this year's conference had a different energy from past years. "This year, the workshops highlighted all the wonderful things our own people are doing at Camosun. Some of our instructors are employing hybrid teaching techniques that integrate technology in unique ways. By facilitating workshops, these instructors mentor, entice, excite and cajole colleagues into considering how to engage students with technology," says Sly. "We're known for our teaching excellence. Walls Optional provides one more Camosun advantage for our learners and, eventually, their professional community."
Watch for details on the 2012 conference, planned for next spring.
Last updated: May 13, 2011 11:15 am