In addition to my role as an Instructional Designer for the Office of Digital Learning, I’ve also been an Adjunct Instructor for Lone Star Community College for 11 years. Working for a community college can be one of the most difficult and rewarding jobs, all at the same time. As faculty, you see all kinds of student situations. More often than not, your students are working more than one job, have children, are serving as a caretaker, and trying to take classes. You just want your students to succeed and try your hardest to get them to the end with a passing grade. All of that effort takes a toll.
While community colleges offer affordable prices for the students, they usually don’t have much money to offer for professional development for faculty. Conferences can be expensive, which usually translates to instructors having to cover costs on their own, and it can be difficult to find one that applies to community college needs.
That’s why I was very excited when I was asked to be the co-chair for the Community College Summit at the Online Learning Consortium’s 2018 Innovate Conference. Each year, this free summit has a new focus and is led by a new group of people centered in community colleges. Last year, the focus was on affordable learning solutions, storytelling and growing expert instructors. This year’s Community College Summit, which will take place in Denver in April, will focus on exploring the role of online learning in social mobility. The summit provides an intensive 4 hours to network, learn from experts in the field, and discuss with your peers, and it all focuses around needs that have been identified by people working in community colleges. The summit is also offered to online participants, if you are not able to make it in person.
You may thinking, well that sounds nice, but I still can’t afford it, so now what?
We live in a world that has been made substantially smaller by our digital resources. Pick an educational organization such as OLC, Educause, or The Chronicle of Higher Education and read all of their free resources. Instagram is also becoming a place for leaders in higher education to share resources and collaborate. Podcasts are also alive and well. Seek out topics that you enjoy and then subscribe to the speakers you like the most.
All of this may sound a bit overwhelming. Pick one avenue and tackle it one step at a time, and you may find there is a quite a bit of crossover between authors for educational organizations and Instagram leaders.
As we hit the beginning of a new year, the gyms are full and people are focused on taking care of themselves….at least for a month. Setting some time aside on a daily or weekly basis to learn from others is taking care of yourself professionally. If you commit one hour per week to professional development, that gives you 52 hours in a year, and you never know what idea you may come across that will inspire you to do great things!