DRN BC: Opening Keynote

I got to attend the Disability Resource Network of BC Annual Conference this morning as an exhibitor in the back, so I got a chance to sit in on the opening keynote.

Challenges and Opportunities for Faculty and Students in BC: Remarks on a Changing Educational Landscape

by Dr. Milton McLaren

Addressing the challenges of learner diversity in a time of change in the landscape of Education in BC.

Most of us tend to manage our lives according to the model of how the world works. Sometimes we need to adjust that model, because how we think it works is not how it actually works.

We need to look outside the box to see that there are larger concerns than just what happens inside the area that we’re in.

Adjusting Your Mental Model

There is a lively discussion and revising curriculum, especially K-12, but also post-secondary education. See Access & Excellence: The Campus 2020 Plan for British Columbia’s Post-Secondary Education System.

However, we are not taking enough time to discuss and plan. We don’t design a bridge in a day. We need to develop a different approach.

Changing Landscape

Private post-secondary institutions can apply for degree offering. 340 self regulated registered private career training institutions, and 16 theological ones, 19 private and public out of province institutions offering degrees in BC, and 1447 private post secondary institutions in BC (a few years ago).

There are plenty of schools using iTunes U, MOOCs, etc.

Curriculum is everywhere now.

Many free online courses e.g. coursera, udacity, edx Even at UBC, 17k+ students enrolled in first MOOC offering of climate literacy. Attrition rate is high, but for those who finish, get recognition of achievement. At UBC, get official, verifiable, shareable achievement.

Credit aggregator says they will take recognition from various universities and get one institution to recognize the courses taken.

Online learning is not the same as in person, because it’s cold and there is no interaction, but actually you don’t make a can that runs itself. Online courses has interaction potentially 24/7.

The main challenge is not technological, it’s conceptual.

The major issue is not whether the technology is changing the institutions as much as whether the technology and media have changed the nature and expectations of the students coming into the schools.

An Interesting Challenge – The Transition from School to Work

Supporting the transition from school to work typically around practical experience with internships, practica, etc. However, employers frequently still reluctant to spend time and money on training students, because seen as lost when student leaves.

The most important thing is mentorship where mentors can teach about and how to do things in context.


Diversity is growing.

Education is decreasingly affordable and accessible.

Maker movement and material libraries are emerging.


Let’s make accessible places where students can take their ideas and play with them (physically).

People have access to books, now they need access to tools.

These are interesting times filled with opportunities.

Author: Cynthia

Technologist, Librarian, Metadata and Technical Services expert, Educator, Mentor, Web Developer, UXer, Accessibility Advocate, Documentarian

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