Re-envisioning the Future of Education

Joaquin Martinez, Ph.D.,Provost and Vice President of Instruction at the Community College of Baltimore County

Joaquin Martinez, Ph.D.,Provost and Vice President of Instruction at the Community College of Baltimore County

Joaquin Martinez currently serves as provost and vice president of instruction at the Community College of Baltimore County. Prior to joining CCBC, he spent the last decade in significant leadership positions at Miami Dade College (MDC) in Florida, including as president of MDC's Hialeah and Wolfson campuses and district vice provost with oversight for accreditation, assessment and evaluation, policy analysis, and institutional effectiveness across all eight campuses, with an annual enrollment topping more than 150,000 students.

Martínez earned his bachelor's degree in Political Science and Modern Languages from Middlebury College in Middlebury, Vermont; his master's degree in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) and Administration and Supervision at Nova Southeastern University in Davie, Florida; and his doctorate in Higher Education Leadership and Research Methodology at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton. He is also a past fellow of the American Association of Community Colleges' (AACC) National Community College Hispanic Council program at California State University, Long Beach and currently serves on the AACC Commission on Student Success.

"It's time for the higher education sector to adapt to a new reality that calls for students to be freed from the current definitions of “seat time”

In an interview with Education Technology Insights, Joaquin Martinez, Provost &Vice President of Instruction at Community College of Baltimore County, discusses the emergence of new trends affecting the educational space.

What are some of the pain points impacting the education space lately?

The pandemic and other socio-economic factors have increased the demand for an educated populace, yet access to democratic education has become increasingly challenging. As we shift to a more diverse nation, our population disparities persist even more, considering the increase in seemingly disparate impacts on various groups across the country. So we are preparing students for jobs in such a way that they can cope with the increasing pace with which the industry and business is evolving. 

Additionally, today most jobs require credentials or post-secondary education, forcing people to adopt higher education. However, only fewer people are able to pursue post-secondary education. As a result, approaches like shorter-term credentials have emerged that combine workforce and degree offerings to a wide variety of adult learners discovering new needs to meet emerging demand.

Technology has also revolutionized the way we impart knowledge for an information economy. Higher education has had to abandon traditional teaching and learning models in order to better meet the needs of students and workers. This is quite important as many started joining higher education for job access in order to have a better quality of life. Moreover, to break the cycle of poverty, intergenerational community colleges are well-suited to serve as democratic colleges. Intergenerational community colleges serve educational opportunities that can transform people's livesas there are no restrictions on who can attend these colleges.

What are some of the latest educational trends that have gained attention?

It's time for the higher education sector to adapt to a new reality that calls for students to be freed from the current definitions of "seat time." For students, learning should be facilitated by allowing them to build on past knowledge and establish equivalencies to demonstrate their competence in a more friendly manner than sitting in a classroom chair for 15 weeks and listening to a lecture. So when the university recognizes these trends, it will be a part of the process of enhancing or growing knowledge rather than pre-packaging it. 

Additionally, this would make the faculty's role also slightly different - shifting from provider to facilitator, connector, and validator of information. This is due to the fact that the next generation of learners has access to a vast amount of information at their fingertips. As a result, the expectation is to gain value from a higher education institution that is distinct from what they could acquire from a cell phone, which now offers infinite access to knowledge materials.

How did COVID-19 impact the space?

Historically there have been very firm parameters around credit versus non-credit education. Credit courses are usually taken to work towards a degree program. Credit-free courses are taken for personal or professional interest and do not usually offer college credits. Today it's not uncommon for a bachelor's degree holder to return for non-credit professional training in order to pursue an industry-specific credential that does not necessarily lead to the conferral of a degree but still confers value.

We've been working extremely hard to develop a pipeline and increase the continuum of academic programming across the entire portfolio, both credit and non-credit, so that an industrial certification may be useful in an area where a liberal arts degree has traditionally been required, and vice versa. 

What would be your piece of advice to aspiring professionals seeking a career in the Education space?

It is becoming increasingly vital to direct higher education operations in the way students get benefited. Previously, students had to look at the organizations or institutions of higher education and plan to satisfy their expectations and get their admission done. But now, we are headed towards a world where the economy of knowledge and information is so rich that we must question ourselves as institutions of higher learning. How well are we equipped to meet the needs of the students that we serve?.

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