New Motlow president Torrence named to Online Learning Consortium board
Even before he arrives for his first day as the new president at Motlow State Community College, Dr. Michael Torrence, Ph.D., is already busy bringing international attention to the region. Torrence was recently selected from more than 230 nominees to serve a three-year term on the board of directors for Online Learning Consortium (OLC), a non-profit organization headquartered in Newbury, Mass. The mission of OLC is to advance quality digital teaching and learning experiences.
Torrence noted, “This is an opportunity to serve a worldwide network of educators dedicated to pursuing ideals in policy, practice, and technology necessary to serve communities that might otherwise not have access to higher education. We must draw upon existing and emerging technologies to develop new platforms and expand the breadth of our reach if we are to ensure the communities we serve are all prepared to meet changing markets and workforce needs.”
OLC is recognized internationally for fostering innovation and quality through resources such as best-practice peer-reviewed journals and publications, quality benchmarking, leading-edge instruction, community-driven conferences, practitioner-based and empirical research, and subject matter expert guidance.
Torrence joins Motlow as well as the OLC board of directors at a time when demand for educational access is on the rise and advancements in teaching technologies are expanding exponentially. These developments have coalesced into a collection of resources and platforms that are often referred to as “distributed” learning. “We face critical and complex decisions in our resolve to ensure everyone has access to high-quality, market-relevant education,” added Torrence. “There is no one way, no single tool, no solitary performers, who can orchestrate all the moving parts necessary to accomplish the future to which we are called. Collaboration is vital, and the OLC provides a grand venue for the cooperative alliances I want Motlow to be a part of.”
Like other Tennessee community colleges, Motlow is preparing for an influx of new students taking advantage of the Tennessee Reconnect program.Reconnect is part of Governor Bill Haslam’s initiative to help more adults complete college degrees or credentials that lead to new skills, advancement in the workplace, or to fulfill lifelong dreams of higher education. Eligibility requirements include state residency for at least one year, and most candidates must be at least 25-years old, or qualify as an independent. The program is part of the Drive-to-55 initiative to ensure that 55 percent of Tennessee adults have a degree or certificate by the year 2025. To that end, Torrence wants Motlow to be a local leader in developing innovative solutions that meet the needs of this changing student population.
“The expectation of non-traditional learners requires that we develop non-traditional approaches,” said Torrence. “There was a time when just offering online classes was considered innovative. The next step in innovation was offering complete online degree programs. Now flexible learning options have to be the norm. We have to be at the forefront of the digital media approach to instructional delivery that blends web-based teaching, video streaming, collaborative conferencing, and face-to-face classroom time in flexible learning spaces. And it must come with well-supported opportunities for remote student engagement that include both learner-to-learner and instructor-to-learner interaction. Today’s students need access to individual and collaborative learning that is independent of time and location.”
Torrence also noted that communities with a higher percentage of educated workers were more competitive in attracting new industries and high-wage jobs.
Motlow is currently hosting a series of Tennessee Reconnect Adult Information Events to help interested adults learn more about the Reconnect free college tuition program. Dates, sign-up forms and more information is available at motlowreconnect.com.