Academic Advisor Heather Ricks traveled to the University College of Maastricht, Netherlands to attend the National Academic Advising Association (NACADA - US) Conference. The three-day (June) event attracted 225 advisors, administrators, and instructors from 18 countries.
“Interacting with the advisors and faculty at UCM was a unique and valuable professional experience,” Heather said. She met and connected with academic staff that is focused on technological advising and instruction. As an online advisor, Heather said she “has quite often felt unique at conferences and professional meetings”. While in Maastricht, she was able to attend sessions that were focused on assessing online advising at a large research institution in Australia, how advisors are reaching out to both on-campus and online populations in the American Midwest, and ways that a Canadian advisor is reaching her students via social media. Additionally, Heather learned about some of the methods that instructors are using to assess online student work in the UK and how an administrator in the western part of the US is thinking about technology as it relates to classroom learning.
Heather added she “was pleased to report that she met lots of interesting people and was grateful for the opportunity to connect with advisors and other student support staff from so many varied backgrounds.” “It was important for her to be reminded of the various educational systems across the globe and how that might directly affect the students in the Online Master of Science in Food Safety program”.
After arriving in Amsterdam a day before the conference, Heather took the train down to Maastricht, a small city in the southeastern portion of the Netherlands surrounded by Belgium, Luxembourg, and Germany. Founded as a medical college, the city has hosted Maastricht University since 1976 and can proudly claim it as one of the youngest and most innovative colleges in the EU. The University College of Maastricht, or UCM, was founded within the university in 2002 and was modeled on problem-based learning (PBL) and cooperative curriculum. Centered on an open curriculum, similar to US colleges and universities where students choose their courses and create a matrix of classes, UCM is unusual in the EU where most post-secondary students follow a structured, more linear, and proscribed academic plan based simply on majors.