So many community colleges, built as they are under daunting budget constraints, have campuses that belie the gardens of intellectual, cultural, and personal growth that flower inside their buildings. In rural areas, they can look like drab barns or rambling toolsheds, while in cities they take on the cold uniformity of the office strip or the corporate park. Institutional. Sterile. Orwellian in their slablike devotion to walls.
But at Moraine Valley Community College in Palos Hills, Illinois, something there is that doesn’t mind a challenge. In 1999, Moraine’s collegewide Task Group for Art on Campus confronted the campus’ walls and began planting the seeds for a more beautiful learning environment.
Although the group acknowledged that the Fine and Performing Arts Center was an excellent example of the college’s commitment to the arts, other areas of the campus were notably free of cultural uplift. “The walls of the campus, both interior and exterior, looked industrial,” admits MVCC Vice President Mary Kay Kickels. “We’re a Vanguard Learning College, and we needed and wanted a Vanguard College learning environment.”
The Task Group started by going from department to department, asking questions of students and faculty and developing a plan to beautify the campus, beginning with Building L, which faces a parking lot. In the Spring of 2000, they had succeeded with Phase One, a poster project. Each committee member purchased and framed a poster of a recognized artwork and donated it to the college. Seven posters, including prints by Klee, Hockney, Mapplethorpe, and Chagall, were approved to hang on the building’s north wall. The cost, according to a memo sent by Art on Campus group, was “nothing beyond the services we would request from Campus Operations to hang the posters.”
Next, the group initiated the “Stairwell Project,” which entailed the placement of inspirational quotes on the walls around the campus. The quotes ranged from the classical (Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass) to the urgently contemporary, such as this one from Nelson Mandela: “Your playing small doesn’t serve the world.”
The walls began to sprout wisdom, beauty, and the occasional literary mischief. Suddenly there was Shakespeare:
Good old Anonymous popped up:
And Gertrude Stein twined her way in as well:
This year, between the artwork and the wordwork, Moraine Valley can count itself among the beauties of community college campuses. The artification project has been a true community effort, involving everyone on campus, and it continues to transform the environment for students and faculty alike.
“We have some beautiful artwork from faculty, too,” says Kickels. “The executive leadership has contributed more money for art, and we have more quotes going up all the time.
“It’s a real celebration of Moraine Valley’s learning environment,” she adds, “just a wonderful way to invite all of the campus in on externalizing the spirit of the college.”
The quotes, Kickels says, “challenge the students and the faculty to think outside the boundaries of the classroom.”
Challenged by walls, the Task Group for Art on Campus made windows, and the result has been a broadening of vision for everyone.
Or, as Margaret Mead sings from the concrete of one campus structure:
This fall marks the fifth anniversary of the five-year, $9.3 million, U.S. Department of Education-funded Technology Innovation Challenge Grant to the League and its partners for the Alliance+ project. Alliance+ is a professional development activity that prepares teachers to integrate technology into the curriculum in innovative ways that enhance student learning and support higher levels of achievement. The project has been implemented in Cleveland (OH), Phoenix (AZ), and Miami (FL) using a train-the-trainer model in which faculty from Maricopa Community College District, Cuyahoga Community College, and Miami-Dade Community College District participate in special institutes that prepare them to train mentor teachers from their corresponding local school districts. These mentor teachers, in turn, use project resources to provide training for colleagues in their home schools.
Focus on Technology for Learning
Recent findings from the Student Impact
Study (SIS) suggest that Alliance+ teachers across the country are effectively
using information technology to promote student learning. Alliance+ is
an Internet-in-education professional development program developed by
the Center for Improved Engineering and Science Education at Stevens Institute
of Technology in Hoboken, NJ, and implemented through three community
colleges and public and parochial K-12 schools in Cleveland, Miami, and
Phoenix. Harcourt Educational Measurement conducted the study in collaboration
with Alliance+ staff and participating teachers in the project’s
three main sites.
Students in Alliance+ classrooms were observed working individually or in groups using technology tools to conduct inquiry-based investigations, enhance their understanding of science, communicate via e-mail with students from other schools, post their findings on collaborative and real-time data projects to the schools’ websites, and present their findings to the school and the community at large. Student products include journals, models, narratives and reports, posters and photographs, PowerPoint presentations, and Web pages.
“My personal accomplishment was to allow the students to take the lead,” one Cleveland teacher commented on her SIS experience. “Initially, it was difficult to let second-graders direct their own learning because they may not always do what you want or do it in the time frame that you may expect. But afterwards, I felt the experience would allow the students to retain knowledge and develop skills better than if they had followed my step-by-step directions. I have always agreed that learning should be student centered, but it is difficult to let students decide which activities to participate in or to what extent. This project seemed to give the students a feeling of their work, not mine. I hope that this experience will show them what they are capable of achieving, and encourage them to set even higher goals next time.”
Alliance+ Family Workshop Series Pilot is a Success
This past spring, the Cleveland area site, in collaboration with the Polaris Career Center and the High Tech Academy, developed and piloted an Alliance+ Family Workshop Series. The series, consisting of four two-hour Saturday workshops, was targeted toward the parents of High Tech Academy students and was designed by a team consisting of Lani Ritter (Polaris Career Center), and Jerry Bell and John Perrin, Cuyahoga Community College. The purpose of the A+ Family Workshop Series was to acquaint parents of Cleveland Municipal School District students with basic computer skills, unique and compelling applications of the Internet, basic Web page design, and information on Cuyahoga Community College programs and services. High Tech Academy students were interviewed, and 13 were hired and trained for positions as Teaching Assistants. Sixteen parents participated in the series and were instructed by Lani Ritter, Jerry Bell, and the Teaching Assistants. Analysis of the workshop evaluations completed by the participants clearly indicated that workshop objectives were achieved and that the parents developed computer skills, an appreciation for unique and compelling applications, and personal Web pages of which to be proud.
The Family Workshop concept has been adapted into a train-the-trainer session, offered this past August, with the intention of creating a cadre of Alliance+ Family Workshop instructors and Teaching Assistants, and offering workshops throughout the Cleveland area.
Savvy Teachers, 21st Century Students
Miami-Dade Community College (MDCC) is preparing K-16 students in mathematics, science, and technology skills necessary for the 21st Century through the Alliance+ Grant. The Florida college’s goal is to complete SavvyCyber Teacher™ training in Miami-Dade County Public Schools and the Archdiocese of Miami. During the coming year, math, science, and education faculty who have specialized in SavvyCyber materials will provide support to these teachers in the implementation of telecollaborative and real-time data projects. Another goal is to create an awareness of the needs teachers face in the implementation of technology by providing seminars to school administrators to strengthen the support in their schools.
In addition to working with teachers at the K-12 level, Miami-Dade Community College will provide professional development to faculty not currently trained in the SavvyCyber materials. These faculty members will have the opportunity to participate in a workshop specifically designed to promote new and interesting ways of teaching using the Internet and modeling educational reform practices that engage preservice education majors in the field of mathematics, science and technology. These practices were developed from the SavvyCyber materials and focus on use of the Internet
In Phoenix, Bridging the Digital Disconnect
Maricopa Community Colleges in the Phoenix area have trained over 2,000 teachers in 67 school districts with a goal of 2500 trained teachers by 2003. The SavvyCyber Teacher? course is part of the teacher education pre-service program at Grand Canyon University and is accredited by Arizona State University. A multicultural, 45-hour version of the course is also being offered. In the past two years Phoenix Alliance+ has been awarded 10 Fast Track grants of $10,000 each by the Arizona K-12 Center. Evaluation results from the 2001 grants of teachers who successfully completed the SavvyCyber Teacher course and who documented classroom implementation of an Internet-based real-time or collaborative project were as follows:
In a recent article, a Washington Post writer cited a study by the Pew and American Life project. “Middle and high school students in the United States say they are increasingly frustrated by the way the Internet is being used or more aptly is not being used by teachers in the classroom.” As suggested by the Fast Track evaluation, Phoenix Alliance+ is bridging that digital disconnect.
listserv includes diverse perspectives on challenges facing higher education.
In June of this year, member Frank Mayadas posed a general question to
the listserv: “What exactly is offensive about the idea of calling
students customers?” The following is a synthesis of the conversation
generated by that question.
When learners do not find what they seek in one school, they can easily transfer to another. Thus, customer satisfaction becomes an important factor in institutional planning, and from an administrative perspective, viewing students as customers seems prudent.
Market forces such as Amazon, Hotmail, Napster, AOL, and employer-sponsored online learning undoubtedly shape student expectations. Interactive technology offers people immediacy through instant feedback, games, peer-to-peer semantic Webs, innovative pedagogies, and targeted marketing. Students may understandably think of themselves as customers who hold faculty accountable for providing paid-for results, life-enhancing skills, and knowledge. Certainly, schools are developing more convenient support services in response to demand, but are similar transformations occurring in learning services?
While faculty may be willing to think of themselves as mentors in addition to their traditional roles as professors, content experts, and certifiers of competence, most faculty surely do not want to be thought of as edutainment salespeople: "If we give learners what they want, it is construed as entertainment, but if we give them what we think they need, then it is education." Thus, thinking of students primarily as customers rather than as learners deprofessionalizes faculty.
from being dominated by consumerism, online education does offer the potential
for sustaining the faculty role of public intellectual and nurturer of
learning, and for affirming the time-honored designation alma mater.
The nurturing mother provides what the child needs, not just what the
Learning is not the sole domain of educational institutions; learning permeates everyday life. A function of the information revolution is that education has become less a preparation for life than a lifelong need. The information society is a learning society. The goals of both are reflected in the descriptions we regularly use as fundamental to learning: knowledge creation that is active, collaborative, problem-centered, inquiry-based, constructivist, and outcomes-oriented.
programs are at the intersection of major changes in higher education,
emphasizing a new commitment to serving all students with pedagogies suited
to this learning society.
Reprinted by permission from the Sloan-C View.
the continuing effort to provide technician training for the nation's
aerospace industry, Florida’s Brevard Community College (BCC) Spaceport
Center will obtain use of a launch pad and support facilities for education
purposes, courtesy of the 45th Space Wing and the Florida Space Authority.
"We expect to be able to use LOKI and Super LOKI rockets which can achieve altitudes in excess of 200,000 feet carrying a variety of payloads," said Dr. Al Koller, executive director of BCC's Spaceport operations. "All BCC launches will be accomplished with the direct involvement of the Florida Space Authority and launch support organizations at the Cape who serve regular launches."
7800 provides 4,400 square feet of space that will be used to house rocket
engines of various types on which students will work. The BCC Spaceport
Center began technician training last year, and 28 of its 60 students
are in the second year of a two-year A.S. degree program. Upon completion
of this unique course of study, graduates can expect to find employment
at any launch support facilities in the world.
Robert A. Sevier, Building a Brand That Matters: Helping Colleges and Universities Capitalize on the Four Essential Elements of a Block-Buster Brand
LeagueConnections brings you resources of interest and innovation, brief glances at the latest and most thought-provoking materials for community college professionals. Feel free to send your suggestions for our review of books and products to Boo Browning.
Those are words likely to leap to the minds of most higher education professionals at the decidedly unletterish suggestion of college branding. Who, after all, trudged the long and arduous academic path to leadership just to end up branding the beloved college as though it were a quarter-pounder, a computer, a sack of cheese squiggles?
Exactly: “I didn’t even think of going there.”
But hold on. That’s not college leadership Robert Sevier is quoting here. That’s a student, or more accurately, a prospective student. A former prospective student who passed your college by, simply because its name didn’t ring any bells on the ever-oscillating enroll-0-meter.
Such is the sobering starting point for Robert A. Sevier’s Building a Brand That Matters, a book determined to show you why a college that refuses to recognize the size and ply of the haystack will remain just another needle, come enrollment or fundraising time. “There are 3,600 two- and four-year colleges in the United States,” Sevier points out. “Even as a member of the academy, how many can you name?”
Sevier isn’t out to depress you, however. He’s all about answers in this 240-page book, and most of those answers are straightforward, engaging, and illuminating in a very aha way. The strength of the book, besides its solid, step-by-step advice, is how it drives home the argument that branding is less a necessary capitalist evil than a commonsense reflex to life in an age of information swamp. There’s just so much to remember. These days even celebrities, who commit a lifetime to self-branding, are down to about 13 minutes of fame apiece.
The author of Building a Brand That Matters has a Ph.D in Policy Analysis and Higher Education Administration from The Ohio State University (that’s capital T, remember?) and a masters in journalism from the University of Oregon. He is fond of waxing Socratic now and then (“A great brand knows itself”), and often sits comfortably in the pop psychologist’s chair, emphasizing personal involvement and, for example, the “almost pathological devotion” that Texas A&M students and alumni have for their institution.
In spite of his name, Sevier can be witty in the service of a dead-on illustration. He gleefully relates the story of how Reno’s Community College of Southern Nevada used billboard placement to make branding impact. “Ten billion served,” shouted one arrow on the sign. “How to avoid a life of serving them,” read another arrow pointing the opposition direction, while the college’s name ran below.
“This billboard was strategically placed,” Sevier observes drily. “One arrow pointed across the street to a fast-food restaurant. Another pointed to the college campus.”
It’s the rare academic who will fall in love with the idea that branding has become crucial to the health and well-being of higher education. But if you are a college professional slowly coming around to the importance of name recognition and retention in a hurtling, logo-loco world, Sevier has written a most appealing primer that covers the territory well.
You might even think of going there.
Registration for the 2002 CIT Ends October 25!