This document presents a variety of thoughts related to the future directions of higher education at Columbia College. It begins with statements relating the purpose of education. This is followed by a section which presents a less traditional and more student centered set of principles and philosophies of higher education. The final section talks about Columbia’s future learning environment.
The Purpose of Education at Columbia College
- To compete on the world stage, post-secondary institutions must educate students that are able to compete in a global community. In this regard the following set of statements describe the purpose of higher education at Columbia College:
- To developing the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and behaviours of learners that will enable them to become productive and contributing members within their families, society, and industry, on a local and where needed global basis.
- To help learners understand that much of the knowledge and skills that are needed today will not be as relevant tomorrow and therefore to help them adopt life long learning skills. This means developing learning to learn skills that will enable the individual to continue to acquire new knowledge and skills throughout life.
- To develop greater problem solving and decision making skills that will enable learners to develop more innovative and creative solutions to challenges facing them and mankind.
- To develop the collaborative, cooperative, communicative, and language skills of learners that will serve them locally and where needed internationally.
- To develop and understand the diversity of mankind and to better appreciate and respect each other at local, regional, and international levels.
- To develop the ability to assess the social, emotional, spiritual, and physical needs of oneself as well as others, and to develop more meaningful, efficient and effective products, processes and services to satisfy those needs.
- To develop a greater understanding of the needs of our environment, as well as the safety, and security needs of individuals in our society, and similar needs of people around the world.
- To learn to become moral and ethical as well as fair and just individuals that contribute to the common good of mankind.
The Principles and Philosophy of Education at Columbia College
The following statements describe the principles and philosophy of higher education at Columbia College. This college has clearly expanded the traditional college focus of a younger more traditional student body of eighteen to twenty-two year olds to include a much larger number of previously under-represented learners such as older adults as well as immigrants. This section begins with a broader interpretation of intelligence.
- At Columbia College we believe that intelligence is what is acquired when we either formally (in school) or informally (out of school) acquire more knowledge and/or skills, or modify our current attitudes or behaviors.
- Intelligence not only relates to mental knowledge but also relates to physical skills as well as artistic skills, talents, gifts and abilities. For some people acquiring some forms of intelligence occurs more naturally. However for most people the ability to acquire intelligence develops more gradually inside and outside of the classroom. It will occur best however, when the individual feels supported, relaxed, comfortable, respected, valued, stimulated, and challenged to grow. In this regard we believe at Columbia College that one’s physical, psychological, and experiential surroundings may greatly influence the development of intelligence. The development of intelligence at Columbia College will also be effected by access to quality facilitation as well as support inside and outside of the classroom in the form of guidance, coaching, counseling, and mentoring.
- Each individual will develop and demonstrate different forms of intelligence in different ways. This will be determined or affected by the nature of the environment the individual is exposed to and the degree the environment recognizes, values, and respects the various forms of intelligence. Western society, and especially the western education system tends to view intelligence as a mental ability. Children in western societies learn quickly that education is primarily focused on mental ability and those who perform well in this environment are highly valued. Children who do not do well in this environment tend to form a lower self esteem that can affect their development and performance throughout life. A greater number of individuals will grow up and develop a more positive view of themselves when the society in which they live values and respects the various forms of intelligence. We at Columbia College recognize the various forms of intelligence.
- Individuals are born with the innate desire to learn and therefore develop their intelligence throughout life. We further understand at Columbia College that each of us learns throughout life and develops in different ways and at different rates.
- Individuals find some knowledge and/or skills harder to acquire and others easier, even if the new knowledge and/or skills seem very similar to that which was just acquired.
- Some individuals may blame themselves for not acquiring new knowledge and skills when this could have been caused by such external factors as a teacher, parent, employer, or as a result of a particular situation. It is therefore important for those responsible for education at Columbia College to question themselves as well as their methods and approach to facilitating learning when one or more individuals are not successful.
- Although some individuals learn better by hearing sounds; a greater number learn better by seeing the world around them. However, most individuals learn and develop best when they are able to engage more of their senses, by doing or experiencing things for themselves. At Columbia, our faculty create learning environments that engage learner senses by doing and experiencing.
- We at Columbia College believe that individuals will enhance their knowledge and skills as a result of interaction with others through cooperative and/or collaborative learning. This interaction may occur inside or outside a formal learning environment such as a classroom. Often this interaction allows individuals to experience, apply, adapt, modify, reinforce, strengthen, solidify, and retain specific concepts and/or critical thinking skills. These more in-depth experiences may increase the individuals’ ability to move what they have learned from less valued short term memory to more valued long term memory.
At Columbia College these experiences often take the form of personal reflections, discussions, presentations, role playing, debates, simulations, group work, panels, and especially case studies. They may also be experienced in labs, computer simulations, field trips, practicums, service learning, community activities, tutoring, and student exchange programs.
We believe at Columbia College that knowledge and skills are more effectively understood, acquired and retained when the learner is more motivated to learn. This motivation tends to increase when the learner moves from more passive learning environments such as listening and note taking to more interactive learning environments such as case study discussions, role plays, and debates which allows them to be in more control of what they are learning. This will allow them to gain more personal and therefore more relevant experience. Still greater depth and appreciation of new knowledge and skills is realized when it is used to assess and analyze a situation (preferably a real problem) and an effective solution is identified.
The more personally authentic the situation or problem is to each learner the more motivated they will be to learn and the more meaningful the experience will be. Educators at Columbia College are therefore encouraged to have learners draw on real life situations when trying to understand a concept or when learning to apply new knowledge and/or skills. It is through the process of problem based and experiential learning that learners are able to take theory and put it into practice that provides the most deep seated meaning to an individual, and may be retained by them the longest.
Learning and growth are recognized as being achieved at Columbia College when the individual is able to demonstrate they are able to consistently apply new knowledge and/or skills in a meaningful manner to solve a variety of new and preferably real world problems or challenges. This is referred to, by some, as outcome-based or competency-based learning.
Student learning is often influenced at Columbia College by such matters as the students’ cultural or civil beliefs or practices. It may also be affected by their familial, emotional, physical, psychological, social, financial, or maturational matters. Some of these influences may affect learning for all or a considerable portion of ones’ life. Our faculty do their best to understand how these factors influence each student separately.
Learning can be inhibited or severely impaired when a learner is placed in an environment where they are not able to adequately function at the level they desire or the level expected of them by the authority such as a facilitator. This inhibition or impairment may be further exacerbated by the negative reaction of their peers. Therefore, great care is taken by Columbia’s admission advisors to assess a learner’s readiness to be admitted to the college. It must be ascertained if they have the necessary entry level language, communication skills, cultural skills, academic knowledge and abilities, and motivation to be successful in this learning environment at this time.
A fundamental principle of Columbia College is that when a student fails the college also fails, and when the student succeeds then so do we. One of the purposes of this college’s faculty and staff is to ensure that it is structured to respond to the different learning needs of each individual that will enable them to succeed.
In summary, the most preferred learning situation will occur at Columbia College when each learner is placed in a learning environment that is structured to accommodate his/her learning style, interests, abilities, and skills. It will be more effective when he/she is able to progress at a speed that is challenging yet comfortable to them. And the college will be most successful when each learner receives continuous feedback, encouragement, and stimuli that allows them to successfully acquire learning outcomes that can be applied in their personal life and/or workplace.
Columbia’s Future Higher Education Learning Environment
In the future, some of Columbia’s classrooms will transition from four walls, desks, black boards, and pencils to student centered interactive learning environments that are highly technologically driven. What is currently referred to as distance education will, in many ways, be integrated with our current delivery system.
The following statement presents many of the elements that will be included in the colleges’ future learning environment.
- To move from group based instruction in larger classrooms to individualized and small groups of learners interacting face-to-face as well as over the internet.
- To move learning from a single source lecturer to learning from facilitators, peers, mentors, tutors, counselors, and advisors within the community and around the world.
- To expand learning from a mostly textbook environment, to learning from collaborative and experiential learning activities such as discussions, case studies, simulations, practicums, student exchange programs, and assisting with research.
- To move from more face-to-face interaction with faculty, advisors, counselors, and administrators to more internet contact.
- To move from courses requiring primarily short term memory to pass multiple choice final exams to courses requiring students to demonstrate they have acquired the necessary competencies and skills using long term memory.
- To move learning assessment from one or two traditional methods determined by the instructor to multiple assessment methods where students may be able to choose between several options such as: folio and portfolio assessment, observation, practicum, and work experience activities. It may also include the use of journals and practicum employer evaluation reports, simulation assessments, demonstrations, presentations, as well as collaborative learning activities. Learners may also be assessed as a result of assisting in research activities, completing literature reviews and papers, problem solving activities, or creating products, processes, and/or innovative solutions to preferably real life challenges.
- To move from more face-to-face methods of counseling, advising, administering, supporting, and orientating learners to the greater use of technology.
- To move from classroom lectures to web based lectures, presentations, demonstrations, simulations, case studies, discussions, and debates with other learners in many countries.
- To move from a lecturer and course textbook as the primary sources of knowledge transfer to web-based learning groups, tutors, peer support, mentors, specialists, counselors, and advisors from around the world.
- To move from classroom-based paper and pencil methods of assessment to more community based and internet based observations, simulations, demonstrations, presentations, and practicums.