When I say, “riding the wave”, you may be thinking of a surfer riding the wave on a beach. I don’t know much about surfing and I have never tried to do it. However, it does not take much sense to know that you must be ready for the wave before it approaches you. If not, the wave will hit you making you tumble around in the water until it is in front of you. Then it is too late because you have been left behind. So the key is to be ready before the wave hits in order to ride the wave. This blog is not about surfing, but to inform you how Butler Community College plans to be ready for the wave of change, so we can ride the wave to a successful future.
Change is something that everyone has to deal with. It’s usually not welcomed, but it is a fact of life. I read some interesting facts that David Dykes wrote about change. 150 years ago people could only go the speed of horse—about 25 mph. But then there were trains that could travel about 40 mph. 100 years ago there were only about 8000 cars in America and 141 paved roads. The maximum speed limit was 10 mph in most cities. However, it took awhile for cars to reach the speeds of 60 mph. Now there are planes that fly 200 mph and jets that fly over 400 mph. Today the Space Shuttle speeds along at 25,000 mph. I would say we’ve come a long way in transportation in the past 150 years.
Let’s take a quick look at technology. The first computer in the 1960s occupied entire rooms. Now they have small handheld devises that are faster and have more memory than the home computers we had just several years ago. Internet is another huge change. In 1993 there were only about 50 websites on the World Wide Web. Today Google estimates that there are at least 20 billion different websites in operation today.
It doesn’t stop here, it’s going to keep changing and at a faster rate in the future. Bill Gates addressed the opening address at the Consumers Electric Show in Las Vegas earlier this year. He said that in the next decade we can throw our mouses and keyboards away as computers will all be touch screen. Computers will be our tabletops at restaurants. We will be able to select our meal, then surf the internet or check e-mail while we wait on our food.
Now let’s take another look at vehicles with all of the new technology. With the high gasoline prices we will have more alternative fuels. There is technology in place for cars to be controlled by GPA—GM Chairman, Rick Wagoner, told the audience at the Consumer Electric Show in Las Vegas, ”Autonomous driving means that, someday, you could check your e-mail, eat breakfast, apply your make-up, read the newspaper, watch a video…all while commuting to work.” You may actually get so much of your work done before you get to work, that you may need a break when you get there. (Embracing Change)
What do all of these changes have to do with teaching collision repair?
You may be wondering where I’m going with this. My point is that we are dealing with change like we never experienced before in history. Education is no exception. If we want to stay in front of the wave of change, we must stay prepared and lead the way. As I’ve mentioned, the internet has changed the way we all do business. This has opened a new window for learning possibilities. Online learning is not new. Butler Community College was one of WebCt’s biggest customers at one time. However, after consideration the college decided to upgrade to another online college training system called Angel. We have been successfully teaching students online for a long time. However, this format does not work for some technical type training like Collision Repair. The high fuel prices have made us look for new ways to offer quality training to technical students. Therefore, one of our solutions is blended learning.
Blended classes offer the best of both worlds. It offers face-to-face with your instructor and online training. This will eliminate the number of times a student must travel to college. For example, instead of attending class four (4) days per week, the student can attend three (3) days for the lab (hands-on) and perform his/her classroom work (theory) from home. This will allow students less out-of-pocket expense.
Staying in Front of the Wave
Blended learning is not a new concept, but Butler Community College will be the first college offering this format using the I-CAR curriculum. We had a conference call meeting with Ron Ray of I-CAR Education Foundation to explore the possibilities of making this happening. Ron understood the need for this type of training and was very supportive of it. I-CAR integrated with our online Angel system will provide password protected access for students that are enrolled in the collision repair program. This will offer superior training with a deep level of learning. Butler’s Career and Technology Dean, Jim Edwards, is the person that enlightened me of the vision of moving this towards a blended format. After Jim attended the meeting, he felt the I-CAR curriculum would provide Butler a very attractive blended class. Jim plans to have the blended program together by January 2009 and ready to offer to students by Fall of 2009. After getting the collision repair program in the blended format, Jim plans to have the automotive and welding classes to follow. This is not an easy transition–to design a technical blended class, but this is what it takes to ride the wave of change—and not be left behind.
This is just one of the things that we’re doing to stay in the lead of education. Check back to learn about more updates, students, and activities in the BCC Collision Repair Program.
If you would like to learn more about I-CAR, please view the video below.