23 November 2010

Higher Education Summit addresses innovation, credit transfer

Colleges Ontario's annual conference was held in Toronto the last two days, and featured many discussions on education as an enabler of downstream social and economic productivity. Highlights included the Conference Board's report on college applied research, "Innovation Catalysts and Accelerators: The Impact of Ontario Colleges’ Applied Research", and expert panels on credit transfer and addressing the future needs of society amidst change and challenge (c.f. demographics and the economy). There was also a great talk by the CBC's Bob McDonald who outlined the role of science in knowledge generation and how we ignore the role of knowledge change over time at our peril.

On the issue of credit transfer and articulation of the Ontario education system, I was disappointed to hear many people talk about how difficult this will be in Ontario and how it won't work, or won't work easily. While it is certainly important to acknowledge the challenges we face in achieving a true educational system, it is clear that we need to modernize the Ontario educational system. Adopting an "any point of entry; any point of exit" model such as Alberta's (to name one jurisdiction) will greatly aid our overall capacity to innovate and compete internationally. It is too easy to say why this can't be done in Ontario; it is much more difficult to work at building a responsive education system that has the needs of students and employers in mind.We need to challenge ourselves as a system, make bold, future-facing decisions, and act now to build the framework for integrating new immigrants and addressing the skills gaps and shortages that are upon us.  The innovation economy demands innovative responses to the challenges we face.

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