David Fleming
It's All Academic   www.davidflemingsite.com   
A Gulf War

10/7:  A Gulf War

I had never heard of blogs until I attended the CCCC (Conference on College Composition and Communication) in 2004.  The keynote speech that day was a multi-media presentation on the significance of blogs--and the way they change writing--for teaching 21st century college students.

I went almost directly from that keynote to the Special Interest Group on Adult Learners in which I was participating.  I might as well have been walking from Paris to Afghanistan.

There was little of relevance in the "blogs-are-the-indicators-of-shifting-communication-among-20-year-olds" for the discussion of adult learners.  Sure, occasionally, those of us who teach adult students find they are more technologically savvy than some of our younger students, but that is not the majority of the adult students that many of us teach.  Many are unlikely to be affected by "blog-speak."  They are more affected by confidence issues, time concerns, and taking the "dis" out of their displacement.

(To the defense of the CCCC keynote speaker, many of the attendees of that conference tended to be high school teachers, so there was a large part of the audience that could apply the points directly to their teaching.)

The adult student population is a significant piece of the pie for almost every college's enrollment, even the big, traditional state universities.  As a result, colleges and universities are having to assess their programs and deliveries to make sure they meet the adult student needs.  Suddenly, debates hinge on the balance between extra-curricular activities, which most adult students don't expect or want from college, and an entirely separate operating model, including dissimilar operating hours, online and off-site offerings, and credit for prior learning.

At the moment, many colleges and universities want to have both the traditional and the non-traditional student bases.  The challenge comes from allocating the money appropriately and altering the "classroom" experience to meet the needs and strengths of both student bodies.  When I taught classes that had both traditional and non-traditional students, everyone benefited.  There's a reason universities promote diversity, and that reason should be exemplified by the learning that goes on in the "classroom."  (I place "classroom" in quotation marks to remind that many of these rooms are virtual.)

It's All Academic touches indirectly on this challenge with Provost Carter's endless pursuit to verify the validity of accelerated deliveries.