Following dinner came the headliner. The key-note by the University of Toronto President, Eric Gertler, which ended up being a missed opportunity. At a time when universities have to rethink their relevance functioning in their current form, given the debt load students carry unable to find jobs in the current market, the largest university in Canada bears responsibility to shine light on a new path? With several key influencers present in the room, this talk should have challenged us to re-imagine a world where physical classrooms are replaced by all forms of synchronous and asynchronous learning, where the portals of education find students wherever they are in their lives, and where there are dynamic and synergistic collaborations with alumni, industry, other institutions and even nation states! This is the time to rethink the revenue model that universities operate by, given the role education has come to play as a life- long pursuit, with technological advancements altering our reality at break-neck speed. We simply have to keep up with the change in order to do better at work and to live fuller lives! Gone are the days when we could pay lip service to words like innovation and civic engagement without actually demonstrating how this would look. If universities are only concerned with maintaining market share and boundaries, in traditional ways, then all that they will be left with are empty classrooms and expensive real estate, while the educational start-ups ride the high waves. Do we want Canada’s largest university to maintain the status quo, with a deluded sense of its importance in its current form, or do we want it to rise up to the greatest challenges that universities are facing today and pave the course?
I marveled at the symbolism of having a music professor at our table. Especially one who was disrupting the world in her own little way. She was bringing classical music from the ivory tower to untrained singers and lay audiences, breaking down barriers and unraveling the mystique surrounding it. And the diversity of folks gathered in that room each had a similar story to share, a piece of wisdom to impart to help both Toronto and Canada stay ahead of the curve, with a shared commitment to achieving excellence in this knowledge economy. We have contributed to this in our own way at MCIS. We continue to help newcomers get a leg up in life qualifying them to work as language professionals, making our courses both geography agnostic and asynchronous.
- MCIS offers several on line skills building courses related to language training (www.mcislanguages.com)
Free online training to address human trafficking (built under the auspices of the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General) is being offered to social work students at some post secondary institutions with wonderful results! Check it out at http://helpingtraffickedpersons.org/