Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Dr. Faulkner: Education in 30 Years

Education in 30 Years

            For many years I have subscribed to a free magazine titled Training. It is a publication directed at professional corporate trainers. I became aware of it by accident but soon realized that we are in essentially the same business and that there were things we could learn from the corporate world.  In the November / December issue Bob Pike reflects on The 30_Year View of education.  Here is the introduction to his article.

USA Today recently celebrated its 30th birthday.  That edition of the newspaper contained both a backward view for 30 years and a forward view.  I read with a great deal of interest the forward view – especially when it started talking about education.
In a nutshell, the predictions are:
1.     Grades will be left behind.
2.     Learning will be tailored
3.     Learning will be high tech.
4.     Learning will be fun.
5.     Learning will never stop.
6.     The human element will remain important.

As we survey the landscape of education, I have to agree with these predictions.  More and more emphasis is on demonstrating competency rather than assigning a grade.  We can see the beginnings in MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) and the Kahn Academy.  Just a few days ago we saw in the media that Vanderbilt will join a coalition of 10 well know universities offering open, online courses.  We can demonstrate that the tailored, high tech approach works in our own emporium model for learning support.

The challenge is to adopt these all across the college.  So I challenge the faculty -  which of these are already true of your classes and what will you do in the future to move in this direction?

December and January Calendar

Nov. 15-
Dec. 16

Miranda Herrick Art Exhibit, Ramer Great Hall 7am-9pm Monday through Saturday, closed Sunday


Christmas at Vol State -seasonal music concert, Caudill Hall Wemyss Auditorium, 7:30pm, Suggested $5 donation for music scholarships

December 1

Christmas at Vol State -seasonal music concert, Caudill Hall Wemyss Auditorium, 7:30pm
Suggested $5 donation for music scholarships


Christmas for the Kids Cafeteria 2pm


Honors Student Presentations
Pickel 118 12:30pm


Festival of Lights Cafeteria 11am

December 24- Jan. 1

Campus closed for holidays

January 17

Spring classes begin

Monday, November 26, 2012

Dr. Faulkner: Six Words

Six Words

            In 2006, journalist Larry Smith founded an on-line magazine called SMITH.  It was one of the first examples of personal media.  One quote refers to it as “a gigantic party to which everyone is invited to come, listen, and contribute their own personal story.”

            In 2007 SMITH partnered with a 5 month-old start up called Twitter to promote a reader contest:  Tell us your life in six words.  The prize was an iPod.

            The six-word memoir blossomed into books, events, t-shirts, comics, games and publications.  Millions of people have created and posted six-word memoirs.  For example Stephen Colbert posted, “Well, I thought it was funny.”

            So what’s the point?  In a time when we often see an abundance of words and even simple things can become highly complex, perhaps really important things should be distilled to as few words as possible. 

Here is my challenge to you.  Express the Vol State mission in six words.  You may send them by e-mail direct to my office or drop them into one of the suggestion boxes around campus.  You will have two weeks to submit your suggestion.

One of the SMITH editors, Rachel Ferschleiser offers some tips to get started:

Be specific.

Be honest.

Forget the thesaurus.

Use your speaking voice.

Experiment with structure.

Stop trying so hard.

You have two weeks to make your submission.  I will share some of the best with everyone in a future blog.  Unless you request to remain anonymous, I will share your name as well.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Dr. Faulkner: Advising


Forty years ago, Terry O’Banion proposed a model for academic advising.  It appeared in what was then known as the Junior College Journal (1972) and has since been adopted and adapted by multiple community colleges and universities.  In an article in the October / November issue of the Community College Journal, O’Banion offers an edited and updated version of the original. 

What follows is quoted from the article:

The process of academic advising is composed of five steps:

1.      Explore Life Goals.  A college education should ensure that every student has and opportunity to ask the questions; Who am I?  Where am I going? What difference does it make?

2.      Explore Vocational Goals.  Vocational goals are life goals extended into the world of work.

3.      Choose a Program.  Once the college has provided an opportunity for students to consider life and vocational goals . . . the student must choose a program.  At a community college with a diverse student body, the process of choosing a program staggers the imagination.

4.      Choose Courses.  Once a program is selected, students must choose courses for the immediate term and perhaps even for subsequent terms.

5.      Schedule Courses.  Deciding when to take courses is no simple task, either.

O’Banion goes on to propose that the best approach to advising is a team approach - one that involves the student, faculty, professional counselors, and special personnel including student assistants and community volunteers.

I admit that as a faculty advisor, I seldom achieved the higher levels of advising, spending most of my precious student interaction time concentrating on numbers 4 and 5.  This spring we are giving special emphasis to advising.  As I shared from this article in an e-mail a few days ago, “Academic Advising is the second-most important function in the community college.”

You can read the full article at

Monday, November 12, 2012

Dr. Faulkner: Convergent Events

Convergent Events

            Two completely unrelated events recently converged to prepare me for Thanksgiving.  The first was the fact that it was the day after the election and the second was a presentation program by the Humphrey’s Fellows.

            November 7 was the day after the local, state, and national elections.  Regardless of the outcome, it was almost as if there was a collective sigh of relief that the campaigns were over.  Many of us empathized with the little girl in the viral video who through her tears expressed that she was “tired of Obamaand Romney.” Even the local elections this year were worrisome.  At all levels there was too much anger, innuendo, vitriol, and downright false statements.

            On that same day, I was able to be in the program where 6 of the Humphrey’s Fellows gave presentations on their home countries.  If you are not familiar with the Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship Program you can learn more at this website.  In a nutshell, as quoted from their web page, “The Humphrey Program brings young and mid-career professionals from designated countries to the United States for a year of non-degree graduate-level study, leadership development, and professional collaboration with U.S. counterparts.”  Vol State partners with Vanderbilt University in the Humphrey’s Program.  The presentations I heard were by Fellows from Bahrain, Liberia, Myanmar (2), Niger, and Nigeria.

            Poverty is extensive in many of these countries with some living on an average income of one dollar per day.  One country reported an 85% unemployment rate.  Most of the fellows are associated with education in one form or another.  Here again things are vastly different than in the U.S.  One country reported a first grade dropout rate of almost 12%.  Still another showed photos of schools where there is one teacher for over 140 students meeting in a dirt floored shed.

            The Fellows have been in the U.S. for a few months now and have had the chance to follow our election process.  Almost all made direct mention of how much they envied our process.  They remarked about how we were able to choose a leader without a military coup.  One remarked that there were not elections in their home country but rather “selections” of the chosen candidate.  In some of their countries the form of government is a complete monarchy.  Others have had multiple coups, violent dictators and where democracy is emerging the military still has the right to suspend freedoms and dissolve the parliament.  When asked what we as U.S. citizens could do to help their countries, they responded that we should support their efforts to bring democracy to their homes.

            This is where the Thanksgiving kicks in.  As I sat there listening to their stories, I was reminded that I am fortunate to live in the greatest country in the World.  Yes we have our challenges but nothing that compares with the challenges these people face daily.  Despite our individual leanings in the election, we elected leaders without a coup, without military intervention, without murder in the streets.  We have the highest standard of living in the world and 7.9% unemployment doesn’t sound too bad.  An in this nation when things are really bad, we pull together.  I’m reminded of the recent images of a very Republican Governor of New Jersey and a very Democratic President of the U.S. walking through the devastation of hurricane Sandy and working together to bring relief. 

            As we approach this season of the year, I hope we will all stop and give thanks for all the blessings we have and for the fact that we live in the United States of America.  God bless America.



Monday, November 5, 2012

Dr. Faulkner: EPIC

This blog kicks-off a series of pieces in the Insider from Vol State President Dr. Jerry Faulkner.
Too Epic to Fail

On Friday, Oct. 26, I visited Springfield High School to join the Springfield Middle School 7th grade students as they received a glimpse of their EPIC FUTURE!   The meeting was the kick-off event for a seven year Gear-Up program.  The grant funded program is designed to increase the college – going culture of a school and community.  This 7th grade cohort will receive support and encouragement through their sophomore year in college.  Volunteer State is pleased to be a part of this grant by providing thousands of dollars of in-kind support for the effort.

As you may imagine it was a lively event with approximately 200 seventh grade students in attendance.  The theme is built around the word “epic.”  The students were reminded that synonyms of epic include impressive, majestic, great, and heroic.  Whenever the word “epic” was used in the presentation, the students responded by shouting, “I am!”  Every student received a t-shirt that said, “I’m too EPIC to fail.”

The creators of the grant have incorporated EPIC as an acronym for some powerful phrases:

Educational Persistence Is Critical

Every Peer In College

Educational Partners In Collaboration

As I sat there enjoying the excitement and youthful exuberance, I wondered what we could do to foster the college - going culture across our entire service area?  There is probably an extensive list, but here are a few thoughts we could all do right now:

·         Get excited about what is happening at the college and share that with others in the community.  It’s OK if you aren’t excited about the Learning Commons but you are excited about basketball. Just share.

·         Let others know of the advantages of a post-secondary education. 

o   Those with an associate’s degree will have average life-time earnings of $350,000 more than those with just a high school diploma.

o   A recent article in the Tennessean revealed that in TN persons with an associate’s degree earned an average $1400 per year more than persons with a bachelor’s degree.

o   During the recent economic recession, persons with post-secondary degrees had substantially lower unemployment than other groups.

·         Be a good example.  Take advantage of the educational benefit we have to work toward a degree or certificate or just to enrich our lives.

Like our middle school friends in Springfield, let’s be EPIC!

Vol State in the News

The Vol State Lady Pioneers get props for their team this year. Check out the Gallatin News Examiner article here:

And here's the scoop on the Men's team:

The Sustainable Tennessee Summit came to campus last week. Check out the  College blog for the details and this Tennessean article: