College outlines strategic directions
Jim Madder, president of Confederation College, shared its 2013-16 strategic plan with community partners during a meeting at La Place Rendez-Vous here last Wednesday.
“Based on feedback and discussions with over 200 stakeholders, and an environmental scan that identified global, regional, and local influences, three strategic directions for the college emerged,” the executive summary noted.
“The mission that we have, as an institution, is to inspire learners to succeed in their lives and careers in Northwestern Ontario and beyond,” Madder explained, citing the vision is that Confederation College will enrich lives through learning.
He noted the name of the strategic plan is Wiicitaakewin, which is an Anishinaabe word that describes the process of helping and assisting others.
“More than half of my students have an aboriginal heritage,” said Madder. “And people will be potentially surprised at that, but it is a very dominant part of what we end up doing. . . .
“So in all that we do, we have to take into account, not just the people that have an aboriginal heritage, but everybody else working in Northwestern Ontario because chances are they are working with people who have an aboriginal heritage,” he reasoned.
Madder noted that serving Northwestern Ontario is “not a no-brainer.”
“There are colleges that have pulled out of all their small campuses,” he remarked. “There are colleges that have pulled out all of regional delivery.
“We have absolutely made the commitment to serve all of Northwestern Ontario,” Madder stressed.
“It’s not easily done—it’s really a challenge to do that across the northwest.”
He said the college wants to be able to deliver programming to individual homes.
“We started a new Travel and Tourism program, we re-worked our program, and, in fact, while our faculty are [delivering] to 20-30 students in front of them, they are [delivering] to eight students in their individual homes in Northwestern Ontario—undefined by where we have a campus,” Madder explained.
That will be their model moving forward, he added.
Madder also said by serving Northwestern Ontario, Confederation College plans to review, renew, and revise its program mix in relation to the needs of the area and the resources available.
And it will continue to nurture relationships with other Ontario colleges and universities in order to expand programming.
Meanwhile, in terms of
access and success of learners, the college will continue to offer upgrading a flexible learning to help their students succeed.
“There are institutions that are dramatically reducing their access programming,” Madder noted. “They don’t do literacy, they don’t do numeracy, they don’t do upgrading.
“They assume you’re already up here before they start talking to you—and that’s not what we’re about.
“We will meet our students where they are,” he stressed, citing for example, if a student is at a Grade 9 level of literacy, they will encourage that student to get through enough levels in order to be successful.
Confederation College plans to support learners at their own pace, with a variety of interactive models.
The strategic plan indicates the college also is looking to implement a student village, with learner success as a major theme and enhanced support for aboriginal learners, as well as implement a “virtual college,” including technology-enabled learning to expand access to programming and services throughout Northwestern Ontario and beyond.
In addition, it wants to expand support to employees and learners to facilitate learner success, to implement “Study North” to recruit learners to Confederation College, and to expand international education.
As for supporting aboriginal learning, Madder said they plan to ensure all of the credit programs will have aboriginal learning outcomes.
“As we grow this and as we embed this through our programs, I think that we are more effectively serving the needs of Northwestern Ontario,” Madder reasoned.
The strategic plan also indicated it will realize the Negahneewin vision for learners, increase and align the learner support and programming of Negahneewin throughout Confederation College, and implement the Centre for Policy in Aboriginal Learning.
In addition, the college wants to expand partnerships with K-12 education providers to support the success of high school learners and their transition to college, with particular emphasis on the success and transition of aboriginal learners.
“Collaboration amongst learners, employees, stakeholders, communities, and aboriginal partners, as well as building connections to foster growth and learner success, will be required for the innovated path ahead,” Madder concluded.
“Investing in three interconnected strategic directions, as well as building a supportive foundation of people, infrastructure, and partnerships, will be integral in moving forward over the next three years,” he said.