Of Levels, The OQF, and Respect for All Educators

I know that many 9x9x25ers were at TESS this week, and I have seen a lot of great ideas being shared from that conference as blogs and on Twitter. I was not at TESS; I was in Baltimore last week at a conference that was not in my field but tangentially related to my overarching research interests. It is always interesting to be at a conference in the States because it reminds you of the divides that exist in higher education in different countries. Conversations at these conferences are usually framed within the “are you at a 2-year college?” question and the divisions between what is seen at a “community college” and what is seen at a university. The belief behind that is that these are two different entities and thus lessons learned most be different.

This is similar to some of the conversations that I see playing out in higher education in Canada for some time now. I am often surprised (though much less so now after seeing it so often) at the divisions that are entrenched in universities and colleges in Canada and how these attitudes trickle down to how people at universities treat those who work at colleges and how people at colleges think of those who work at universities. I was inspired to write this post because I was thinking of how different people view what I do depending on where they are presently employed and how my pedagogical experience is very diverse.

I have a pretty good vantage point because I have taught at both colleges and universities and I am now at a college that shares a campus with a university. I must say that these divisions are not as apparent where I work now and I think that is because there is a very good sense of how we are an educational community which is awesome.

In my position I spend a lot of time talking to faculty about the Ontario Qualifications Framework (OQF) and the depth and breadth of knowledge in each qualification. I work to make sure that faculty are scaffolding their courses and assignments to make sure they are at the proper credential level. Whether you are teaching apprentices, or are in a certificate, diploma, advanced diploma, graduate certificate, or degree program there’s an awareness of this depth and breadth that is required. This is for everyone, no matter if your title is instructor, professor, adjunct, professor of practice, or sessional, everyone should be paying attention to how our courses fit in the framework and therefore everyone should be receiving the same respect for what we do, for it is all important.

I think one of the things that trips people up has to do with titling and nomenclature. Even the word adjunct, which etymologically means “something added to but not an essential part of something else” (adjunct) is a faulty term for adjuncts are often the essential cadre of educators at some institutions. We have to keep in mind that what each and every one of us does is important to education. What I do at a college is no less important than what others do at a university. A best practice for accessibility and online design is a best practice that will work at higher ed institutions and even in corporate training.

The time has come for us to really work towards tearing down these divides because we work better together than apart. There are strategies in the classroom, in curriculum design that we can learn from each other instead of dismissing them outright by saying something like “oh that wouldn’t work at a college”, or “that wouldn’t work at a university.” I know that I am better equipped to do my job because of the experience that I have had at both colleges and universities. This is why something like 9x9x25 is so great because we really can explore the teaching and learning perspectives of those who work at many different types of institutions or as private consultants. So I have a challenge for you, if you work at a college find a colleague who works at a university, and vice versa and share one best practice in teaching and learning. Maybe you can roll it into your next blog post, or tweet it out; let’s work on inter-institutional community building!

Work Cited

“Adjunct.” Online Etymology Dictionary. https://www.etymonline.com/word/adjunct

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