Attending an AAC&U institute can be an opportunity to have a collective dialogue on an important concern for your college or department in an environment with a lot of support. The institute involved four tracks: educational leadership; departmental outcomes and aims of twenty-first century liberal education; faculty roles; and the learning, assessment and improvement cycle. Unlike a traditional conference, where the choice of what to attend is made more or less independently, the tracks build on each other and teams are encouraged to divide and assimilate as much information as possible.Bravo, I say. However, further down in the piece, Salter makes the following observation that completely takes the shine off any enthusiasm one might have for the conference listed above:
However, despite the presence of a track entirely focused on twenty-first century education, technology was often remarkably absent from the conversation (and the setting). While a number of attendees were sporting iPads or the occasional laptop, conference wireless was lacking, a Twitter backchannel (as far as I could find) nonexistent, and final presentations were made sans Power Point or Prezi. We engaged in a lot of “low-tech” brainstorming, complete with giant presentation pads and paper-prototyping of curriculum design. The results did keep us very in the moment, but they limited opportunities for sharing ideas outward.This is the epic fail currently engulfing many sectors of academia. No wi-fi? No continuing conversation via Twitter? Use of paper only? The last line says it all- "limited opportunities for sharing ideas outward." As I argued in my response to a previous Chronicle article on 'Ideas in the Ascendent', the new digital age requires circulation of information in order to be relevant. This conference might have had really great discussions and ideas as to how we, as educators, can improve our craft in the digital age. But I will never know what they said, will never comment on or improve ideas given. Others, who did not attend the conference, will also miss out. How can you debate the best techniques for twenty-first century learning when you use outmoded twentieth century methods to discuss the ideas?
This last quote hits on my complant squarely:
I’m entering my first year as an assistant professor—I haven’t been involved with administrative or committee work much yet. But after attending the AAC&U Institute, I feel like I have a much better idea of how things work and what some of the processes for curriculum reform and starting new initiatives might look like. I’ve also got a better sense of what some of our programs and general education requirements look like compared to universities across the country who also had teams at the institute.Too bad the rest of us, mingling with digital technology in the twenty-first century, are left in the dark.