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Have You Had Your Dose of Learning Lately?!

Trust me, I am busy, too.  But that doesn’t stop me from taking advantage of some of the opportunities to learn without having to travel far or shell out money on conference fees. There are myriad learning opportunities right here within our county, our district, our campus (Go CTLE!).  We work in one of the largest community college districts in the country, and with that come some great perks, one of which is the sharing.  Activities, functions, plays, art shows, retirement parties, and, of course learning opportunities are regularly announced throughout the district.  Workshops, mini-conferences, presentations, and the like are happening on college campuses around the nation, but usually just for those on that campus.  We are of the good fortune to be in a situation where we invite and are invited by our neighboring colleagues to attend professional growth opportunities all the time.  But how often are we attending/participating in these events?  Given the amount of offerings, it is possible for everyone to get a regular dose of learning!  I attended a couple of MCLI sponsored events recently that were totally worth my time.

Scottsdale Community College’s second annual Tech Talks was on January 24 at SCC and sponsored by MCLI.  The TED Talk based format allowed for ten 18-minute talks (that’s four hours including breaks and refreshments!), given by faculty from various departments and campuses in Maricopa, as well as guest speakers from industry.  And though the focus of Tech Talks is technology in education, it does not restrict presenters to sharing only ideas about the use of technology in classrooms.  Speakers connected the use of technology in life, in business, as professionals, as students, and as teachers.  The audience was encouraged to view technology in use and perhaps even challenged to analyze the relevance and importance of that usage.  From technology used during a NASA Mars simulation, to guitar building at CGCC, and even to the
first college accredited DJ certificate program at SCC (including a demonstration–video below–from the first graduate of that program, DJ Ascension) Tech Talks provided an interesting and diverse learning opportunity.

The Friday following Tech Talks was the second annual Canvas Conversations at GateWay College in conjunction with MCLI and other Maricopa colleges.  This event was designed to showcase some of the different ways Canvas is being used by our colleagues throughout the district.  Now that Canvas is our only LMS option, there are even more people using it and discovering interesting, powerful ways to wield it.  Clocking in at six hours, this day of learning included a webinar from Instructure, roundtable discussions, and concurrent presentation sessions.  One of the best aspects of this event was the opportunity to learn uses of Canvas from the students’ perspective.  Many of the presenters created “practice courses” for the session attendees to enroll in.  But instead of being enrolled as instructors, attendees were enrolled as students and lead through a series of tasks/assignments using a particular tool or set of tools within Canvas.  There is no better way to understand how to design assignments using technology than to experience them as the end-user.  

There are a lot of learning opportunities out there on all our sister colleges’ campuses.  And though I didn’t even get into all the wonderful workshops and presentations organized by our very own CTLE, getting your regular dose of learning is as easy at heading over to HT2.  I know our roles as teaching professor, professional, mentor, colleague, and the like (life coach/counselor/punching bag!) can be daunting and exhausting, but at the end of the day, we do this (and keep doing this) because we love it.  Share the love.  Attend.  Keep learning.

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