Industry advisory committees can provide more valuable input on courses and curriculum if committee members have more time to review the current state of affairs and provide meaningful feedback. However, the way in which many advisory committee meetings are set up (i.e., faculty present curriculum, and industry partners have a small amount of time to ask questions or make suggestions) does not typically allow for productive engagement between the faculty and their industry partners.
Markus Geissler, Deputy Sector Navigator for Information and Communication Technologies and Digital Media in the Greater Sacramento Region, is using simple cloud technology to change the process for gathering industry feedback for community colleges in his area.
Earlier this year, Geissler began using Google Drive to post curriculum proposals a few weeks before each regional industry advisory committee meeting. He then shared links with committee members and asked them to review and comment in advance of the meeting.
Receiving the curriculum and the feedback in advance allowed the regional planning team to plan a more productive meeting and tailor the breakout sessions to address specific concerns or trends.
“In ICT, things change regularly, so industry needs to be able to provide feedback,” Geissler said. “What we got was very usable and helped us better plan breakout sessions for the meeting.”
The annotated Google documents also provided a foundation for discussion during the meeting and a reference point that committee members could revisit after the meeting.
“If there are additional suggestions, they are recorded in the same document, as is the vote for approval that is required to meet regional and federal requirements,” Geissler said.
While this approach seems simple, Geissler said it can be difficult for colleges to break out of the mold of the way they’ve always done things. He encourages others to adopt this approach or something similar to gain more useful insights about how to create the best experience for students.
“We’ve been impressed with results we’ve achieved for just a little bit of extra effort up front,” he said. “Let’s use information technology to our advantage.”