Teaching in turbulent times: topic of Ped Day Opening Plenary


Over 160 Dawsonites attended Dr. Saul Carliner’s plenary address to kick-off Dawson’s Ped Day on Oct. 15. Carliner illustrated, through an interactive and engaging virtual presentation, that COVID is but one cause of “turbulence” in higher education, which will continue to affect the day-to-day work of teachers in the 21st century.

Carliner said that beyond COVID, a decline in birth rates, an increased focus on the economic outcomes of education, the prevalence of mature, international and transnational students, new technologies, and budget scarcity are key disruptors to higher education and will have a major influence on the way education is both accessed and delivered.

Carliner described how mature and transnational students tend to seek credentials to maintain or improve employment in the most efficient manner possible. Certificates and badges, or “emerging credentials” can often be earned relatively quickly, are offered in more flexible formats and can be cheaper than more traditional credentials, such as degrees and diplomas although still more widely recognized.

Growing market for emerging credentials
Carliner predicted that the growing market for emerging credentials will place pressure on higher education institutions, like CEGEPs, to innovate and modify the ways in which courses are packaged and delivered. This change would be necessary, said Carliner, to meet the needs of a more diverse student body, with more students motivated by the need to upskill or reskill for employment. Carliner added that it is likely there will be more of a demand for vocational programs, especially for mature and transnational students who seek to gain a “toe-hold” in the job market.

Carliner presented “VUCA” as an acronym for Velocity, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity and elaborated that students will need to be prepared for a “VUCA” future; a future in which change will occur at an unprecedented velocity, in which work will be characterized by much uncertainty, in which problems will have increased complexity and to which solutions are typically ambiguous.

Carliner talked about the continuing need for links and relevance between programs and the real world. He gave several examples of experiential education to do so, like internships, guest speakers, real-world projects, and extra-curricular activities.

Wicked problems = effective pedagogical tools
Carliner forecasted that outcomes and objectives-based learning, like “true” competency-based learning will gain even more traction in pedagogy. Such an approach entails teachers facilitating students’ learning paths through a series of personalized learning modules for specific skill mastery and this format is already available in certain institutions. Carliner indicated that “wicked problems” are effective pedagogical tools for the development of judgement and critical thinking skills and processes, which will be crucial for students to successfully navigate a “VUCA” future.

Using another personal anecdote, Carliner recognized how the role of the teacher is broadening in diversity, much like the student body. Carliner envisages that teachers will more frequently use coaching methodologies and leverage their knowledge of psychological, career or learning support services available for student well-being and success.

Dr. Carliner concluded his interactive and engaging presentation by acknowledging that despite the current and future turbulence to the day-to day work of teachers, the essence of teaching remains constant, which is to teach students so they may be prepared for what lies ahead.

Report by Allison Kurz, Office of Academic Development

Last Modified: November 3, 2021