Community and Technical College: Trends & Issues

Article excerpt

THEME ARTICLE

New trends in community college teaching/learning call for faculty to significantly revise the primary activities in which they engage. Previously, the primary job of the teacher was to choose the material to be presented, to organize that material, and then to present it in an interesting way such that the learner was compelled to learn. Teaching/learning centered on the teacher.

Now, learners have become the center of the teaching/learning enterprise and the role of the teacher in the community college is to diagnose student learning needs and develop learning activities that will enable individual students to learn. Different students within a class may have different learning needs and require differing "prescriptions" for learning.

Often termed active learning, the job of the teacher becomes far more active as well. As coach, mentor, the teacher acknowledges student learning and develops activities that build on the learning already acquired. As part of this activity, students are often brought together as a community whereby they may share learning and learning activities. Such a learning community requires students to be teachers and allows teachers to be learners. The result of active learning, is the potential for longer retention of material learned.

New technology is an indisputable trend in learning. Whether used as learning support or as delivery system, the computer and the access it provides to the Internet, provides an unprecedented expansion of teaching/ learning opportunities. Students and teachers have access to information beyond any one library or any one person's knowledge. Furthermore, adults are painfully aware that every child and young adult is adept at finding and using this new information delivery tool and expects to use this tool in their formal learning. At a minimum, the new technology provides an opportunity for ease in communication between student and teacher, student and student, and at its best use greatly enhances learning opportunities at the time learners are ready to learn. Students, with their teacher/coaches may more readily find learning opportunities to meet their prescribed learning needs. The role of the teacher here is far more than Internet traffic director. With the plethora of information available, students need to be taught how to evaluate and choose among available information sources and how those sources can fit with formal classroom learning.

The new technology also provides exciting learning support. Students may literally or virtually work in the field on actual problems, analyze data, test hypothesis, and apply new ideas and information. Teachers no longer have to hope students will see relationships between theory learned in the classroom and application in work. …