Innovations

June 2021
Almost 20 years ago, Brent and Felder (2003) wrote that, “College teaching may be the only skilled vocation that neither requires prior training of its practitioners nor provides it to them on the job” (p. 236). Lacking this training, many faculty teach using the same pedagogical approaches that were used by their professors, which may or may not be effective (Eynon & Iuzine, 2020). In recent years, calls for improvements in faculty professional development, including prioritizing it in community college budgets, have come from such organizations as the League for Innovation in the...
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June 2021
Congratulations to the 2020-2021 Innovation of the Year Award recipients from 32 participating League Board and Alliance member colleges. The League initiated the Innovation of the Year award over thirty-five years ago to recognize local community college projects and initiatives that reflect the spirit of innovation and experimentation on which our organization was founded. The competition provides an opportunity for colleges to showcase their innovative programs, practices, policies, partnerships, and resources; to celebrate the dedicated educators who are responsible for such exceptional...
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June 2021
The politics of the past several years have taken a toll on the American public. Amidst the ongoing challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, social injustice, and civil unrest, common courtesy seems like a distant memory. Empathy lets us see the world from other points of view and helps us form insights that can nurture more profound ways of thinking, being, and doing (Ventura, 2018). Empathy means understanding and sharing other’s feelings, connecting two core themes: respect and compassion. The future of higher education, like society at large, will require empathy, compassion, and a supportive...
June 2021
Like other higher education institutions across the U.S. and beyond, Tulsa Community College (TCC) shifted to an online-only modality in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Approximately 48 percent of TCC’s faculty did not have previous online teaching training or certification. Not surprisingly, this quick pivot to remote teaching and learning created an immediate need for faculty training. Prior to 2020, the national trend showed flat enrollment or small increases in online courses (Garrett, Legon, & Fredericksen, 2020). With a push to get students on campus, TCC went against the...
May 2021
Like other higher education institutions, Kirkwood Community College has been on a rollercoaster ride since last spring, with unprecedented circumstances seemingly combining forces to prevent the college from educating the masses. Despite the chaos, Kirkwood’s administration, faculty, and staff needed to find a way to move forward and to help students achieve their academic goals. It would take creativity to overcome the many roadblocks—especially one of the most challenging issues facing the college: how to deliver hands-on learning in a pandemic. It’s a near certainty that 2020 will not be...
May 2021
Student retention continues to be a major concern for most community colleges in the U.S. According to research conducted by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center (2019), of all students enrolled in two-year public institutions beginning in fall 2017, only 48.9 percent would continue at the same institution in fall 2018. Comparatively, students at four-year public institutions over the same period boasted an 82.7 percent retention rate. While students may struggle for a variety of reasons, one way to positively address this issue is within the classroom. Over the course of an...
May 2021
Higher education has evolved in many ways over the past century, but still falls short of adequately establishing a diverse workforce that reflects an ever-changing student body (Sensoy & DiAngelo, 2017; Umbach, 2006). The American Association of Community Colleges (2020) reports the demographics of students enrolled in for-credit coursework at community colleges as 45 percent White, 26 percent Hispanic, 13 percent African American, 6 percent Asian/Pacific Islander, 4 percent Other/Unknown, 4 percent two or more races, 1 percent Native American, and 2 percent International. According to...
May 2021
The Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS) Office of Online Learning developed a Boot Camp for hybrid course design meant to help faculty with little to no experience in an online setting to rapidly design hybrid courses. KCTCS Online shared an open access version of this training for use at other institutions for the first time at the department’s “Free PD: Come for the Free, Stay for the Why” session at the 2021 Innovations Conference. The COVID-19 pandemic pushed many faculty members into a new teaching reality. Designed to help faculty quickly acclimate to online and...
April 2021
The level of alumni engagement at two-year colleges is well below that which is typically found at four-year institutions (Magaw, 2013; Skari, 2013; Theis, 2018). This is an issue that affects community colleges’ bottom line, the experience of currently enrolled students, and the connection between alumni and their institutions. The lack of alumni engagement at two-year institutions is often the result of misconceptions about alumni loyalty (Skari, 2013). Those working in alumni engagement at the two-year college level have undoubtedly heard excuses for why their institution cannot dedicate...
April 2021
A unique partnership between Johnson County Community College’s (JCCC) Continuing Education Transportation program and Johnson County Adult Education’s (JCAE) Literacy program puts newly trained truck drivers on the road to success. The initiative helps non-native English speakers in Johnson County obtain workforce skills in truck driving. Chris Specht, former Program Coordinator of Accelerating Opportunity: Kansas at JCCC, began laying the groundwork in 2017. Thanks to the combined effort of many at the college, the program officially launched in summer 2020. “The collaboration between the...
March 2021
Almost half of U.S. community college students responding to the #RealCollege survey conducted by The Hope Center for College, Community and Justice indicated that they had experienced food insecurity within the 30 days before completing the survey (Goldrick-Rab et al., 2019). In response, an increasing number of community colleges are working to eliminate food insecurity for students and their families. Through programs such as on-campus food pantries, community gardens, farmers’ markets, and food scholarships, colleges are finding solutions for students and, in some cases, staff who are...
March 2021
Indian River State College (IRSC) and Honeywell have launched a comprehensive infrastructure improvement project designed to increase energy efficiency across all five of IRSC’s campuses through a series of building upgrades. The improvements implemented through an Energy Savings Performance Contract are projected to reduce energy usage, water consumption, and operational costs by at least $850,000 annually, or $9.8 million over 10 years, and will enhance the educational environment for students, visitors, and staff through new lighting and heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC)...
March 2021
2019-2020 Innovation of the Year Award and 2020-2021 League Excellence Award Recipient Video These award recipients were recognized at the 2021 virtual Innovations Conference.
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March 2021
For many decades, community colleges have been creating and advocating different emphases in organizational culture that reflect their evolving nature and values. Historically, the most visible effort has been the creation of a Culture of Teaching, to the point that the community college has been known until recently as the Teaching College. A Culture of Teaching In 1988, the Commission on the Future of Community Colleges, established by the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), issued the landmark report, Building Communities: A Vision for a New Century. The report emphasized...
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February 2021
In fiscal year 2019-2020, Sinclair Community College (Sinclair) received $10,000 from StrivePartnership Cincinnati and Learn to Earn Dayton to develop and implement a strategic communication plan to reach students who had stopped out in the previous two years without completing a degree from any postsecondary institution. Sinclair chose to expand their reach beyond the originally funded 2,000 students to include an additional 6,300 students who had stopped out in the previous five years. The communication strategy consisted of a combination of intentional personalized phone calls, email, mail...
February 2021
If you ask faculty at Hennepin Technical College (HTC) to describe their students, most will use the word “resilient.” Many HTC students must overcome tremendous obstacles in their lives to pursue their education goals. The majority of the HTC student population is economically fragile, including students of color and low-income, first-generation, and adult students. In an effort to increase student persistence, the college launched a new research project to take a closer look at the challenges facing students. The project—Stop Drop Enroll!—was conducted in partnership with nearby North...
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