Local educators keynote on innovation and community colleges

Innovation is key if the nation’s community colleges are going to meet the challenges of educating the next generation of college students and retraining displaced workers and the unemployed so that they can thrive in the high-tech, high-demand jobs needed in the workforce, both today and in the future.

“The Nature of Innovation in the Community College” provides some lessons on ways colleges have used innovative ideas to improve their institutions, and that study is the focus of Tuesday’s general session at the League for Innovation in the Community College’s Innovations 2010 Conference, beginning at 9 a.m. at the Hilton Baltimore, 401 West Pratt St., in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor.

Terry O’Banion, Ph.D., director of Walden University’s Community College Leadership Program, said community colleges are at the forefront of higher education innovation. He and Laura E. Weidner, Ph.D., dean of workforce development at the Center for Workforce Solutions at Anne Arundel Community College, will present the findings of a yearlong study on the methods that colleges used to take innovative actions and some of the results of those successes.

O’Banion, who is president emeritus of the League for Innovation in the Community College and a recognized expert in higher education, and Weidner, who has overseen workforce programs that earned national awards, studied 173 innovations at 19 colleges recognized by the League for its Innovation of the Year Award. The study was sponsored by the League for Innovation in the Community College with support from the MetLife Foundation.

About 1,500 educators representing 294 of the top community colleges in the country are attending Innovations 2010 through March 31 to share innovative programs that have worked in educating more students and retraining displaced workers. The Innovations 2010 conference is the annual national conference of the League for Innovation in the Community College.

The League for Innovation in the Community College is an 800-member international organization that serves nationally and internationally as a catalyst, project incubator and experimental laboratory for community colleges around the world. It is a key leader in influencing the expansion and improvement of workforce training programs in community colleges in the U.S. and Canada.

Hosting the conference are Anne Arundel Community College, Baltimore City Community College, Community College of Baltimore County, Montgomery College and Prince George’s Community College.

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