The FACTC Blog provides faculty a forum for diverse views on instructional issues related to community and technical colleges in Washington state. For information about FACTC (factc.org), contact Phil Venditti, Clover Park Community College, at phil.venditti@cptc.edu. For information about the FACTC Blog, contact Jennifer Wu, North Seattle Community College at jwu@sccd.ctc.edu. We welcome your feedback and ideas.

Sep 15, 2011


Lindsey Cassels, student in CPTC's Medical Esthetics Program, joined an instructor in sharing thoughts on open educational resources as part of the two-day 2011 Educause Fall Online Focus Forum. An audience of more than 60 educators from colleges and universities around the United States listened and watched the discussion. Of 16 invited speakers, Lindsey was the only student.
CPTC supported development of a digitized public speaking course to be released throughout the world October 31, along with 41 other Washington two-year college "gatekeeper classes." Support for the project came from the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges under a grant from the Gates Foundation and a matching allocation from the Washington State Legislature.


May 7, 2010

Take Charge of Your Privacy

This week is the first-ever Choose Privacy Week.  The new civic engagement initiative is launched by the American Library Association to spark a national conversation about privacy rights in a digital age.  The wired world gives us unprecedented access to information, but it also facilitates violation of consumers' rights. Online marketers trade, sell or real-time auction off their customers’ personal data.  Online information brokers collect data from public records, semi-public records, and by tracking Web surfing habits to make personal data freely available on the web or for a small fee.  View a List of Online Information BrokersOpt-out options may be complicated or not exist. Facebook provokes ire for its recent changes in handling members’ personal data without their consent.  It’s time that we educate students to think critically and make informed choices about their privacy. 

The North Seattle Community College library has created a book display and is showing a video on privacy issues to raise students’ awareness of the rapid erosion of privacy rights, particularly in the social networking environment.

  North Seattle Community College Library


Tell your Senators and Congressmen to adopt policies that protect privacy, join the crusade. For more information and resources, visit privacyrevolution.org and Privacy Video Gallery.  

Jennifer Wu
North Seattle Community College Library

Nov 16, 2009

Recommendation to SBCTC from Lynne Dodson

The following is a concise statement on true student achievement based on tested methods, real-life barriers to success, and the lack of attention being paid to appropriate funding for what we know works in post-secondary education.

November 11, 2009
To: Jan Yoshiwara, State Board for Community and Technical Colleges
From: Lynne Dodson, Chair, AFT Washington Community College Council
Re: Comments on the SBCTC Mission Study task force recommendations 
CC:  Allan French, Karen Toreson – AFT Washington representatives AFT Washington and WEA Community/Technical College Union Presidents

The AFT Washington Community College Council has a keen interest in recommendations developed by the State Board’s Mission Study Task Force since we represent those at the front lines of ensuring a quality, accessible education for our communities. We appreciate the opportunity to provide feedback on the draft recommendations.
We believe the stated goals of meeting the demand for a well educated and skilled workforce and increasing student success are the critical components of our mission. However, innovation is a means to this end, rather than a goal in and of itself.
Overall, the draft recommendations do not seem to focus enough on how to reach the system goals of meeting demand and student success. As educators, we would like to see more attention paid to encouraging, developing, and supporting well-researched and tested actual practices that increase student success.
The primary reference to student success in the recommendations is in the bullet: “Increase student achievement.” This is our primary goal and mission – yet the only recommendation included in this bullet is to “Reward colleges for increasing student performance” through the Student Achievement program. There is no small body of research on what actually is effective for increasing student achievement - student cohorts, a stable cadre of faculty, small class size, learning communities, access to resources, IBEST, Opportunity Grants. We know that barriers for students include increasing tuition costs, and a lack of support services such as transportation, child care, tutoring, counseling, financial assistance, and multiple jobs.
We don’t lack the data on student success! We do, however, lack recommendations in this document that directly support student achievement. We are also concerned that there does not seem to be a recommendation to evaluate the actual success of the Student Achievement initiative in increasing student achievement, or in evaluating the efficacy of using the achievement points as measures of student achievement. As educators, we know it is possible to have students complete a course without actually meeting the learning objectives of the course – particularly if there is pressure on faculty to pass students to maintain funding levels.
We are also concerned that an over-reliance on the student achievement initiative rather than direct funding of practices known to enhance student achievement will lead to greater disproportionality among colleges. We are concerned with any model that recognizes the importance of adequate funding to develop successful programs but then withholds the funding from colleges that may need it the most.
The mission study recommendations seem to emphasize technology as a solution, rather than technology as a tool. As educators, we are constantly evaluating and modifying our pedagogy and instructional resources to increase student learning. We see technology as a tool in this effort. We also see technology as one type of innovation, but not the only, and not necessarily the best. To the extent that technology assists us in reaching our students, in providing multiple methods for communicating ideas, in facilitating engagement and participation – we use it. We also seek other innovations to help us reach students – learning communities, multi-cultural approaches, service learning, linked courses, writing across the curriculum, portfolios – these are just a few of the innovations faculty are using to secure real student success. Yet there seems to be no attempt to increase attention or funding for these programs. We would like to see less emphasis on technology as the solution, and more emphasis on how the system can bring in resources to support effective innovation through a variety of practices.
We highly recommend that much more attention be paid to recommendations for funding, including support for recruiting and retaining high quality faculty and staff in our colleges.
Strategic recommendations that address how funding will be secured, where additional funding resources might be tapped, and which of the system objectives will take priority in time of scarce resources are not sufficiently addressed in this document.
One way to address this could be to detail how the system will (or if the system can) address some of these recommendations in a time of current anemic funding, or with reduced funding. We have heard around the state that the current funding level is not sustainable for meeting student demand with a high quality of education. We would like to see recommendations on what we can feasibly accomplish given different funding levels, and how we will access adequate resources.

Nov 12, 2009

Open Course Library: The New Name for the Course Redesign Initiative

The Course Redesign Initiative portion of the Student Completion Initiative, has adopted a new name - the “Open Course Library Project.”  This modification seems to connote a more open concept and hopefully conveys a less contentious impression than the previous designation. The SBCTC Student Completion Initiative is a project funded by a $6.5 million grant from the Gates Foundation and Ford Foundation. The goals of the Open Course Library are to improve course completion rates, lower textbook costs for students, and provide new resources for faculty.  Most of the selected 81 courses are common course numbered courses.  They were selected because they are the highest enrolled “gatekeeper” courses. Faculty members, instructional designers and librarians will work as teams in designing the courses.  The courses will be collectively owned by the college system and will be accessible to the global community. 

An interim measure of success of the project will be that "81 redesigned courses are adopted by 20% (64,200 students) of the total sections each quarter in the 2012-2013 academic year and [that there will be] increasing adoptions in subsequent academic years."  Despite repeated assurance from the State Board members that the project is not about "canned courses" or "mandated curriculum," many faculty members remain skeptical and concerned. A careful, reasoned analysis of the project can lead us to the best possible outcomes.

Many developments have occurred in response to this rapidly-evolving project. 
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Resolution adopted unanimously by FACTC members meeting at Skagit Valley College on October 23, 2009:

      FACTC recognizes the worthy intentions of the Course Redesign portion of the Washington State Student Completion Initiative as we understand them.  We are, however, distressed and disappointed that faculty members were not involved from the outset in planning and shaping the initiative.  Furthermore, after-the-fact feedback opportunities for faculty are limited and unacceptably rushed.    
      As the leading statewide faculty organization for the expression of academic issues and concerns, FACTC insists upon prior consultation as a vital stakeholder in future SBCTC projects which deal with teaching and learning.  We look forward to participating as full partners with SBCTC.

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Faculty for the Future
The AFT and WEA have set up a Faculty for the Future online forum for their members to continue the discussion of quality teaching and learning and to define the core values and the future of the teaching profession.

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Open Course Library
The State Board has set up an
Open Course Library Project wiki site for sharing information and providing an open space for faculty and others to comment about the project.  FACTC members and other interested faculty members are invited to contribute their perspectives.

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"Town Hall" meetings
Two Elluminate online town hall meetings organized by the State Board in November have been attended by about 200 participants. Recorded videos and chat scripts are archived. Two more are scheduled. FACTC members and other interested faculty members are urged to attend one or both if their schedules permit:

            Tuesday, November 17: 1:00 – 2:30pm
            Friday, December 4: 2:00 – 3:30pm

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Webinar: Perspectives on Open Textbooks from Two WA Faculty Authors
This webminar is intended to provide some practical insights and offer a chance for faculty and others to learn more about open educational resources.
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See also  SBCTC Mission Study and Faculty of the Future posted on October 18, 2009.

Join in the dialogue and let your voice be heard.

Jennifer Wu
North Seattle Community College  

Oct 18, 2009

SBCTC Mission Study and Faculty of the Future

The State Board of Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC) has commissioned a Mission Study Task Force "to examine how well the college system is serving the people of Washington State, identify future needs, and recommend policies and strategies to meet those needs." Four faculty members across the system served on the task force. The mission study is now in the feedback gathering stage.

Among the findings related to faculty are education is increasingly focused on
information assessment, critical thinking and problem-solving as well as knowledge acquisition; faculty are assuming a larger role as "learning organizers and guides"; digital content, open courseware and open textbooks are expanding exponentially. The study recommends the system "to offer accessible, affordable professional development opportunities focused on effective strategies to increase student achievement, especially for underserved populations and on using emerging web and mobile technologies to strengthen teaching and learning."

The State Board has made the following reports available:
Community and Technical Colleges Mission Study Draft Recommendations
Mission Study Summary of Findings
The College of 2020: Students (Chronicle Research Service)
FACTC representatives from CTC colleges across the state will have an opportunity to discuss the recommendations with State Board representatives during their regular quarterly meeting at Skagit Valley College on October 23.

On a separate front, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) is hosting a Faculty for the Future forum to promote a dialogue among Washington State faculty on the evolving role of higher education faculty.

Please share your opinion or concern by posting a comment or contacting your college FACTC representative.

Jennifer Wu
North Seattle Community College

Feb 10, 2009

Are our students ready?

Students don't know the fundamentals of grammar. Students in a journalism class correctly answered, on average, less than half the questions on the test. We don't teach grammar, at least in transferable classes. Students should know how to use commas, how to identify run-ons and fragments and how to catch basic grammar errors before they ever get into college.

What do you think of the writing abilities of your entering students? How about math abilities?

Mar 18, 2008

Is Student Success the Same as Student Retention?


You're invited to contribute an article to FACTC Focus 2008.

Is Student Success the Same as Student Retention?

  • How hard should we try to retain students?
  • Does an emphasis on retention actually improve student achievement?
  • Should colleges be funded based on student retention?
  • What is the best way to retain students without sacrificing quality evaluation of students?
  • Is the student achievement initiative about quality or quantity?
  • Are we moving toward a new funding model based on incentives for retention?

For information about a new State Board initiative for measuring colleges with momentum points, see SBCTC Research Report No. 07-1.

We would like to see articles about your experiences or your opinions on this topic. Articles can be any length up to 750 words. Artwork is welcome -- must be line art and black ink. Please send articles or art by May 1, 2008 to Mark Doerr at Markd@spokanefalls.edu. FACTC will review all articles for submission.

FACTC Focus Editor

Nov 6, 2007

Technology: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Line drawing by Mark Doerr, Spokane Fall Community College

Your teaching colleagues across the state have much to say about the omnipresent technology ... Read the newly released FACTC Focus 2007 - Techology: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly to find out what they think. Also compare salaries (page 19-21) at community and technical colleges across the state – full- and part-time faculty and college presidents.

“I believe faculty has to be motivated and inspired by change to seriously adapt to new technologies and continue to incorporate them into the classroom. Let’s face it: the way of our world in the future will be technologically based. I’m just trying to stay in line (never a step ahead!!) with change …” - J. Salas, Olympic College

“Choosing less technology does not mean that newbies (“noobs”) are dummies. But on another level, it affects how we relate to our students, who often seem to remain young each year as we grow, er, wiser.” - Lee Sledd, Tacoma Community College

"A new technology might not change what students have always learned in writing classrooms; but, in this case an online synchronous discussion [in a computer-equipped classroom" laid bare the mushroom roots where the discrete, private messiness of learning grows, and how it grows: through mysterious, half-blind, and unique, personally-felt underground connections."
- Jill Stukenberg, Clark College

Share your thought with us!

Jennifer Wu
North Seattle Community College