Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Communication, Collaboration, and Creativity in Higher Education

"The arts especially address the idea of aesthetic experience. An aesthetic experience is one in which your senses are operating at their peak - when you are present in the current moment, when you are resonating with the excitement of this thing that you're experiencing, when you are fully alive." -Sir Ken Robinson, "Changing Education Paradigms"

Last night, I applied for a position as an Online Customer Service Representative for a company called Education Management Corporation. Later today, I missed a phone call inquiring about my application. While I plan on returning that phone call tomorrow, I started thinking about how to answer the inevitable question, "Why do you want to work here?"

Education Management Corporation (EDMC) emphasizes a career-focused education at each of their 100+ locations across the United States and Canada. One main branch of schools under EDMC is The Art Institutes. In 2007, I participated in a community "unconference" called PodCamp Pittsburgh in which people attended sessions about blogging, social media and Web 2.0 tools held at The Art Institutes of Pittsburgh. The event changed my life in many ways.

The Art Institute of Pittsburgh provided the setting for anyone interested in creative self-expression and communication tools in the digital age to gather with like-minded individuals. We discussed different communication platforms, podcasts, blogs, social media, wikis, open source, community, Wikipedia, Second Life - and started conversations in the classroom and online which continue years after the original event. Most of my interest in using blogs, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media tools as a means to create content and develop a community originated at PodCamp.

This is the future of education - communication, collaboration, and creativity - around digital devices and across all borders. If institutions of higher education, such as The Art Institute of Pittsburgh, increasingly become creative spaces to communicate and collaborate, I believe excitement around education will flourish. Now, I have no idea whether this job opportunity will encompass the ideals I have laid out, but events like PodCamp Pittsburgh give me hope.

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