A couple of weeks ago I trekked down to Virginia to attend a forum on the future of higher education that was being held at George Mason University. I was nervous because I’ve never traveled to a conference alone, but I was determined to go despite my nervousness. I am so glad that I went.
This was unlike any conference I’ve ever attended due to the fact that its very nature was to discuss a movement in education that’s on the cusp. The conference was a two-day event, so luckily my sister-in-law lives only 20 miles away. Another bonus? The conference was free and served delicious food and beverages! Seriously though, I took so much from this experience that I still think about and try to determine my role in this trend.
The first day began with GMUs president delivering an opening speech. His remarks made me truly appreciate his position given his commitment to redefining education. I sat at a table with 3 GMU professors, so I got a bit of inside info on President Cabrera. They revealed that the president is an avid tweeter and so the staff now tweets when they need to communicate with him and anyone else. Pretty cool!
Conversations were had among the forum between the attendees, including guest speakers, panelists and twitter followers who were present or just following along via twitter. It was amazing to be part of this. As one might guess, the major driving force of the forum was GMU, but the discussions could translate into any academic setting, even K12s. The focus was centered around the changing times in education, and there was discussions on what students need, moocs, and how technology is changing the face of education today. Of course the biggest opponents to this step forward were the tenured staff who seemed quite afraid of losing their role in this new environment.
The biggest things I took away from the conference is that education is in for a revolution, a new future of possibilities, and I think it’s about time! If you’d like to check out the Provost’s blog, it has a recap from his perspective. Also, the video of the conference is great if you’re interested. Obviously it is not the same as being there because you’re only getting a view of the events and not your specific questions answered, but there’s so much to gain and conversations around this topic are ongoing.
I’ve been monitoring the backchannel from the forum for the past couple of weeks. There are still conversations happening. It’s exciting to watch the progress and know that I had a front row seat to the start of it all. If you want to check out the stream of conversations, #masonfuture. Also, some interesting people to connect with are: @jeffselingo, very prominent keynote speaker at many ed forums; @cabreraangel, GMU president who is pushing forward to meet the needs of 21st century students; @joshua_r_eyler, professor at GMU; @auerswald. There were so many people with real enthusiasm for education!