Day 7

Trip Start May 04, 2007
Trip End May 21, 2007

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Friday, May 11, 2007

This morning I had to get up and pack because the hotel is moving us to another hotel just for the weekend. Apparently the Anglo-Swiss hotel was booked (entirely) a year ago for a wedding so we had to be shipped away. I checked out this morning and went to the lobby to meet the others and wait for Val Holmes to pick us up at 8:15am. Today we were at North Rd. for a Teaching & Learning Forum.
The Teaching & Learning Forum is made up of the vice principles, academy directors, deputy directors, and heads of departments (basically upper management). This forum meets every term (or once every 6 weeks) to go over strategies for teaching, assessment, accountability, communication, etc. I was asked to make a presentation to the Teaching & Learning Forum on WebCT a few weeks before we arrived. I wasn't given any direction on what exactly they wanted me to present so based on the 30 minutes block I was given in the agenda I kept the presentation to teaching modalities and pedagogy and not the technical aspects of the WebCT platform. I believe Matt got a short video of the presentation so see his travelogue if you're interested. B&P college has a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) that has several similar aspects but a large part of the lecturers have been slow to utilize the technology and so the IT department has been struggling with getting them trained and seeing the benefits of having all or aspects of their curriculum available to students online.

After the lunch break Tory, Matt, and I took a short walk outside to take some pictures of the grounds at North Rd. Many staff/faculty I saw on the campus yesterday apologized for the appearance of their facilities. I think they were embarrassed because Stewart, Claire, and Louise had presented pictures of Cy-Fair and everyone was impressed with the physical appearance. Of course they would be... it's new and their facilities are quite old and many of the areas that were built for specifics curriculum have been "overhauled" to support a different program altogether. B&P college is in the process of outlining their "new build" so maintenance to the appearance of buildings that will be torn down isn't high on their list of priorities. Makes sense to me.

At 2pm the three of us met with Chris Frost, IT Manager who's been with the college for 8-9 years. Her background is in History and Law but she teaches in the computers area as well as being the full-time manager of IT. With her were Pat, another full-time "IT Champion" and Nikki, a part-time "IT Champion". I thought these titles were intriguing. Chris explained that they used the titles because these people really were championing for IT and the use of the VLE on a daily basis... championing with faculty, staff, and with upper management.  Chris asked us a lot of questions about our faculty and how open and willing they were to use on online environment for teaching. She had been told by Claire and Louise that their impression was 90% or more of the CFC faculty were actively using WebCT in some form or fashion (DL, Hybrid or supplemental). She asked about our training process. They currently do 3 1-hr sessions and it's all on the technical aspect of VLE. They were also interested in any suggestions we had in "hooking" faculty from disciplines that were anti-technology or anti-online teaching.
If you're not part of Cy-Fair College you might not be interested in the next part. You'll be okay if you skip down to the next paragraph. I promise... I won't find out.
At 3pm we met with the Heads of Tutoring. All of us were anxious to have this meeting. The tutoring program B&P College has is fantastic... so far ahead of anything Cy-Fair has even considered. We met with Andrea- Assistant Principle, Fran- Head of Tutoring at Poole, Lorraine- Head of Tutoring at Bournemouth, and Manda- Head of Tutoring for Part-time & Adults. I first have to say that from the first day we were on the B&P campus we were struck by the tutoring program and its impact on the students. This is not a program that is just there in theory. There is training, mentoring, file management, and nurturing of the holistic approach to student success. Every Child Matters (ECM) was a government initiative to bring all the separate child care authorities together to create a single child service agreement. ECM has 5 themes: 1.) Healthy (college nurse, health fairs, sexual disease testing, drug testing, and soon anti-smoking) 2.) Safety (student welfare officer) 3.) Enjoying & Achieving (money given to each tutor group each year) 4.) Positive Contributions (giving back to the community - sometimes compensated) 5.) Achieving Economic Viability (employability). In order to pull off such a successful program they can't have just a handful of tutors. Each academy (each division which are much smaller than ours) have a senior tutor and a lead tutor. Sometimes there is more than one lead tutor. Under the lead tutor each group of about 20 students has a personal tutor whom they speak with for at least 1 hour a week. Students can also go to the lead tutor or to the senior tutor. They even have subject tutors to help with curriculum issues (I believe I've mentioned this in an early travelogue so I'll stop here). This program is something that our college needs to review and consider. We say we here for the students and all about student success but when you see what this college is doing I can honestly say I was embarrassed we have nothing close to their magnitude. They were surprised that a college that services as many students as we do didn't have something in place.  I asked if this was a government funded program. It is not. The inspectors coming to review the college and its programs have a tutoring component to look for in their review therefore it is required they have a tutoring program. Tutoring is part of all colleges in the UK. Colleges can choose how they structure their tutoring program. There is no national mandate but they do it in a way that means something for their student population and location. They have irrequorable proof that tutoring and nurturing is directly linked to success in curriculum. The heads of tutoring said that the program give some structure for the students to follow, gives them someone who listens, someone who cares and who isn't judgemental, and gives the student an opportunity to have an adult relationship without it being a teacher. The tutoring team gave each of us a Personal Tutor Handbook which also includes an outline of a personal tutor training program.
Val Holmes came to pick us up at 4:30pm. On our way back to the hotel she stopped at the view point which is an outlook spot to see the Poole Harbour, the Purbecks, Brown Sea Island, and on a clear day Corfe Castle. It wasn't the clearest of days so we didn't see the castle but it was a new view. Here's a quick video of the harbour from the view point.

We got back to the Anglo-Swiss hotel and the attendant called a taxi to come pick us up and take us to the Riviera Hotel. The hotel is not too far from the water but I'm not sure if it's the harbour or the ocean. I guess I'll have to investigate it tomorrow. The three of us got settled into our rooms and then met in the lobby to go get some grub (we were all pretty hungry and didn't have much at the forum). The receptionist provided a map and recommended a place called Café Rouge.

We headed out in the cold, wet, windy English atmosphere and decided not to get a taxi because it was only about a 15 minute walk. After about 5 minutes it was raining hard enough that Matt offered me his umbrella and we pushed through to Café Rouge (was more than 15 minutes or maybe I was just numb from the cold wet wind and couldn't wait to get inside somewhere).

We saw some interesting houses and some quaint scenes of rows of houses. We found Café Rouge with out any problem and although they were booked and we didn't have a reservation the hostess offered us a reserved table but she would need it ready for an 8:15pm reservation. It was 6:30pm so we thought we would be okay.

The café was very quaint and very French. The hostess and our waitress were at least French. I don't know about everyone else. We tried a white Belgium Strawberry beer and each had a starter. I had smoked haddock in a crepe pancake with gruyere cheese. It was fabulous. I didn't realize how hungry I was till I took the first bite. I just about swallowed it all done after that.

They had a Friday night special we I had seafood in a cream sauce in a puff pastry with new potatoes and French beans. All of it was good. Matt wanted to order a crepe because that's what you have in France. We considered ordering one and sharing but the waitress took quite a while to get back over to us that we decided against it. I believe I've mentioned this before but they don't like you to leave after you finish eating. The waitress was at least 30 minutes before another waitress came to clear away our dishes. 8:15pm came and went and we still didn't have our check.

We finally paid out and walked back to the hotel. We stopped in to check out Mark & Spencer's grocer since Tory wanted to go in to a grocery store. After a quick poke around the shop we walked back to the hotel.
We were all pretty tired so we called it a night so each of us could work in our pj's on our travelogue. Matt has to grade final projects from his online class tomorrow morning so Tory and I are going to check out the water (down the hill) and see if we can figure out where we are on a map. Hopefully the weather will cooperate but the news channel doesn't look to good for tomorrow. Maybe the weatherman will be like Houston and be a day or two off his forecast... wishful thinking.
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