It’s an exciting time to be in Higher Ed (or a really scary, messy, fraught with the unknown time). To say that digital technologies are causing disruption in the teaching / learning landscape is an understatement. It feels a little bit like a minefield as new models pop-up daily for hybrid, blended, synchronistic, asynchronistic, self-paced, flipped, and mobile models for learning. Just keeping up with the shear scale of posts, shout-outs, and hyperlinks in blogs, tweets, and chats can seem like a full-time job. The brick and mortar is under attack. We can moan about this, resist the current, or dive in and try to use the new tools to create new schools or at least foster healthy change within our existing institutional structures.
Richard Bland College has created a Center for Strategic Initiatives (CSI) to address the need for responsive, nimble, market driven solutions for individuals and businesses who want skills based training. We are a college within a college. This model allows RBC to remain committed to the tradition of a liberal arts education steeped in critical thinking and inquiry based learning AND / OR to deliver programs geared towards workforce readiness or professional development.
The Center for Innovative Technology, an economic development think tank, has identified industry and research areas critical to the state and national economies. Advanced manufacturing, cyber security, data management and analytics, smart grid and analytics, biotechnology, and medical devices are strategic focusses for the Richmond region. Richard Bland and CSI are committed to serve as a beta site for innovative solutions in higher education instruction, academic support, and management. Because of our small size, we can be very creative with customized programming and are able to deliver courses and programs at times, locations and in modalities that optimize resources and accommodate student schedules and preferences. Our strategic plan RBC-19, builds on the goals of the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Higher Education Act of 2011 (also called Top Jobs 21 or TJ21) and positions RBC as a key innovator in meeting the emerging educational needs of the Commonwealth.
The compass isn’t quite as easy to read as it has been and the pathways to success are more varied. Students have more responsibility for their own learning and have to take more ownership of their roadmaps. A straight shot through a Bachelor’s degree doesn’t get you to the gold watch anymore. As someone who didn’t have access to the straight shot or the gold watch, I think it’s really exciting to be at RBC right now and be part of this change. The potential of the new learning landscape looks more like a quilt than an arrow. But, I’m a wanderer and I think this journey looks rich and full of possibility.