I’m in Phoenix at the League for Innovation’s Learning College Summit 2010 conference.
The keynote presentation was by Terry O’Banion and Cyntia Wilson on the connections between the Principles of a Learning College and the Student Success/Completion Agenda.
According to O’Banion a learning college
- Creates substantive change in the individual learner.
- Engages learners as full partners in the learning process, assuming primary responsibility for their own choices.
- Treats and offers as many options for learning as possible.
- Assists learners to form and participate in collaborative learning activities.
- Defines the roles of learning facilitators by the needs of the learners.
- Succeeds only when it can document improved and expanded learning.
In the last few years more money has been spent on community colleges than in the previous 100 plus years. Much of this money comes from foundations like Lumina and Gates. The focus of this money has been the Student Success/Completion Agenda goals. Key issues for these are
- Focus on low-income, underprepared, and/or underrepresented students
- Measures of success include
- course completion
- certificate (one-year or more)
The presentation asked us to discuss two ‘big questions’.
- Do actions arising from the Principles of the Learning College improve and expand studen learning (as identified by the Student Success/Completion Agenda)?
- How do we know?
While the context of this was distinctly American, there are parallels with Canadian and specifically Camosun College Community Learning Partnerships department issues around the Nine Essential Skills.
Some issues raised by O’Banion that resonated with us all are
“We have created a culture of access that limits student success.” He mentioned allowing late registration as an example of this.
President Obama has set a goal of increasing college graduation by 5 million by 2020.
The Lumina Foundation’s goal is to increase enrollment by 60% by 2025.
The Gates Foundation wants to double enrollment of younger (<26), low income adults wbho will earn ‘labor market value’ credentials.
Thes goals are set in the context of a college completion rate that has been flat for 40 years.
To meet these goals foundations are giving more money than they have in all the previous 110 years combined of the existence of community colleges.
The commom elements of these initiatives are a focus on low income, under-prepared students.
The measures of success are connected to one year certification or more and NOT short-term course credentials. Course completion and retention leading to jobs are leading indicators of success.