The 2012 OCUFA conference kicked off my year of non-library conference participation. I have to say, it was an interesting conference to attend only because I could hear what faculty had to say about the crisis in higher education. While some celebrate Canada’s success in lower drop out rates in high school and high admissions and entrances to university, some pointed out the failings of Canadian higher education. Here is a very general summary of the concepts and debates discussed through the conference:
- Faculty need help developing stronger teaching skills
- Balancing research, professional services, teaching and applying to grants makes it difficult to focus on teaching
- Student and faculty relations are important
- Students lack engagement in learning and view degrees as a piece of paper
- Student class sizes and lack of in person (online courses) teaching can discourage students
- However, online tools can help engage students
Overall, I felt the conference discussed various points of views, which was interesting to someone like me who is not a faculty member. The faculty shared interesting tidbits and information about the life of a faculty member. I would encourage any librarian to attend next year. Although, I ‘m told the STLHE conference is much more in depth in content since there was such little time, we only got a quick snap shot of the current issues in teaching and learning for faculty and students.
One thing that kept popping in my mind was the lack of discussion of policy and the Ontario government. While we discuss the need for smaller class sizes and the need to engage faculty in professional development, more specifically emphasis on valuing teaching, much of the problem is rooted in the system, the way the Ontario government distributes funding to universities, thus leading to many of the issues discussed. Hopefully the STLHE conference will address these issues.