Theoretically, I appreciated the principles of the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL). I see the benefits for setting standards and policies to implement systems that supports each of the listed principles. And though the institution where I work takes measures to implement these principles, it’s challenging to apply these principles effectively to meet the needs of every student.
Since I work at an open enrollment, public, community college, the migratory enrollment patterns students makes it difficult to measure the effectiveness and long term impact of many of the initiatives that are in place to support these principles. Additionally, we are severely impacted by the political, social and economic climate of the college’s president, board of trustees, politicians and community.
So while I agree with CAEL, in reality, there are challenges in addressing the holistic needs of adult learners. Additionally, the needs of traditional learners and other specific demographic groups (international students, veterans, students with disabilities, etc) are different and cause even more variances in how students are served.
Interestingly, online education is increasing exponentially. Per the National Center for Education Statistics (2016), 14.5% of students are enrolled in at least one distance education course. As online education continues to grow, higher education practitioners are being asked to change how students are served. For instance, the president at the Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC) recently met with the student services and academic deans to begin a CCBC Online college. This new initiative will offer programs solely online. Additionally, this traditionally brick and mortar institutions will also need to examine all processes to adopt a virtual approach to providing student services. As the dean of student development, I am charged to investigate and implement strategies virtualize student services such as academic advisement, career services and other vital services that support student success. Not only does this call for me to examine current processes and identify technology that will support this direction but also determine how to transform the mindset of employees that are resistant to the president’s approach.
U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. (2016). Digest of education statistics, 2015. Retrieved from https://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=80