Teaching and Learning Forum

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

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Friday, May 11, 2007

Overview: Teaching & Learning, dinner at Café Rouge. 

The Teaching and Learning Forum:
Today we attended the "Teaching & Learning Forum" at the Poole campus. 

This conference was attended by approximately 50 staff members, primarily those in administrative roles within the college.  Presentations included discussions about data that they would like to collect on students who enter and leave the college (such as tracking how many go on to Higher Education, how many attain employment in an occupation associated with their college studies after they leave).  Also discussed was the issue of the number of NIETS (pronounced "neats")  in the BPC area (not in educational training); we learned that this is such a concern because "NIET" status puts these teens/young adults at risk (e.g., criminal activity). 
We also watched a presentation regarding online assessment for service industry occupations; the use of this type of assessment and of the VLE (virtual learning environment---quite similar to WebCT) appears to be relatively new for BPC.  Faculty use of this resource has been somewhat limited and Julie was asked to present on WebCT and how it is used at CFC (Julie is a WebCT trainer).  Julie did a great job of communicating how WebCT can be utilized as a tool to enhance teaching.  We then went to meet with Chris Frost from ILT and she demonstrated the VLE for us; she also asked for thoughts about how to promote faculty involvement in VLE.

I found our last meeting of the day to be especially fascinating; we met with heads of the tutoring department and learned even more about this valuable support system for students. These tutors discussed a fairly detailed tutoring training that they have developed, as well as a system for program evaluation that they have implemented (validation).  They indicated that the tutoring program at BPC received quite positive marks in their OFSTED report (a quite rigorous school inspection). Higher rates of student retention have been realized through the use of these programs and I am certainly finding myself thinking of ways that we could implement something similar at CFC.  Through our discussions, we also learned that BPC has a general nurse and a psychiatric nurse visit the college to assist students with maintaining their mental and physical health.  The tutors indicated that a nationwide initiative called Every Child Matters (ECM) http://www.everychildmatters.gov.uk/ has influenced this focus upon health.  This explains some of the posters that we saw around campus and students reports that they discuss sexual health with their tutors.
One of the head tutors, Fran, said that a campaign for understanding Chlamydia was successful, noting that a significant number of students requested testing and many received treatment. BPC also has a student welfare officer (somewhat similar to a social worker role from what I can tell) to assist students.
Evening out:
We had to move out of our hotel rooms in the morning (I think it was due to a lodge function).  The hoteliers were very helpful and arranged to keep our bags until we could return from the above meeting and relocate.  We moved to the Riviera Hotel in western Bournemouth (very close to Poole); http://www.rivierabournemouth.co.uk/.  After arranging our rooms, we went out into town and had dinner at a french restaurant called Café Rouge (which was recommended by the receptionist). 

The staff in the restaurant spoke with French accents and the food was fantastic (as my before and after pictures can attest). 

 I had a goat cheese salad and a seafood mélange in puff pastry.  We are still getting used to the more typical European speed of dinner service, finding that we need to allot about 2-3 hours for a meal. Wait staff are paid a real wage in most European countries and dining is viewed as a leisurely activity (even the event of the evening); there is not typically the pressure to hurry up and finish so that the restaurant can "turn the table." 
An aside:  It is not unusual to see the French in the area, as the travel distance is quite reasonable; many well-to-do English in the area have second homes in France.  It is also not  uncommon for people to take day trips to/from France (about a 2 hour hydrofoil ride or 4 hour ferry).  As we have heard from a number of individuals, things such as cigarettes, wine and even fuel are less expensive in France and people will often take the ferry to France for the day and return with their inexpensive booty! 
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