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BCIT EDUCATION PLAN 2019–2022

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Our Process: The BCIT Ed Talks In 2017 and 2018, through a conversation dubbed Ed Talks, faculty and staff across BCIT engaged in a broad discourse on the educational trajectory of the Institute. Three central concerns percolated to the top:

creeping loss of distinction in the post-secondary education sector as others incorporate ∆ Aapplied education and polytechnic elements in their offerings The ever-accelerating technological advancement around the globe, especially pertinent ∆ for institutes engaged in technical education professions and the rapidly changing face of work—something that BCIT must ∆ Emerging address due to our provincial mandate of strategic workforce development.

From hundreds of comments and submissions, we built a framework to define the initiatives that we want—and need—to pursue in order to address these challenges and to capture opportunities enabled by our strengths and position in the post-secondary landscape. Work since that time has focused on shaping and extending these ideas through analysis and consultation. We presented the concepts to internal and external stakeholders and, in the fall of 2018, asked industry for their input. The feedback, consistent across different types of employers, affirmed the direction we are taking in the Education Plan. The Education Plan forms a foundation for the BCIT Strategic Plan 2019–2022 while, in return, the Strategic Plan mandates the Education Plan and monitors its implementation. Together, they provide a framework for action and accountability as we evolve our state of practice, educational priorities, and infrastructure to keep pace with the changing world around us.

The British Columbia Institute of Technology is grateful to be located on the unceded traditional territory of the Coast Salish Nations.


A Community-inspired Education Plan BCIT holds a unique position among British Columbia’s post-secondary institutions. Our polytechnic character, provincial mandate, and industry relationships together make BCIT distinctive. Through Ed Talks, we determined the need to respond to global trends and a changing workplace while preserving and augmenting that distinction. The reputation and success of this Institute are built on an education model that remains the most effective in many contexts. Our aim is not to replace our current practice, but rather to evolve it through methodologies that complement, enrich, and extend existing systems and relationships. The 2019-22 Education Plan advocates for new interdisciplinary approaches, more flexible learning, and greater levels of focus and responsiveness in industry collaboration. It lays out relevant educational and institutional ambitions and guides future discussions around investment, scholarly activity, and academic purpose. As such, it places emphasis but does not exclude. It outlines but does not impose limitations. And, it describes but does not strictly define. The Education Plan aims to set in motion a list of comprehensive and emerging initiatives that will help to shape BCIT well beyond 2022. It deliberately presents an expanded educational model in a concise manner so that related complex issues such as Indigenous education and applied research can be discussed in their own respective spaces. The strength and decisiveness of the 2019-22 Education Plan is a testament to those who contributed their time, expertise, and perspective through Ed Talks and other interactions across our community. We look forward to working towards a BCIT that remains the first choice for strategic workforce development in a complex world.

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Our Goal: Distinction through Differentiation The world around BCIT is evolving rapidly. Much of this transformation is triggered by ever-accelerating technological development, such as artificial intelligence and automation, with which comes an increasingly digitized world: smart cities, smart health, and smart transportation. The future of work is also changing. New fields and jobs are emerging, graduates no longer believe that they will sustain a career in just one sector, and requirements of employers are shifting as they strive to modernize their workplaces. Demands for work-life balance are morphing into expectations for a rewarding work-life blend. Wellness, communication, and teamwork have become key ingredients for success, alongside functional skills and subject-disciplinary knowledge. There is no sign of the rate of change abating. In fact, many would argue the opposite. BCIT has always had a central role in upskilling and reskilling the labour force in response to shifting technologies and industry demands. To continue to do so in such a dynamic environment, it is imperative

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that we adapt to remain both relevant and unique. Relevancy is about the “what”— t he content we teach. Uniqueness is about the “how”—our methodologies and approaches. Both require constant interfacing with learners and industry, an entrenched commitment to quality, and ongoing experimentation. For many years, our provincial polytechnic model has been both relevant and unique. However, we are witnessing a steady encroachment on this domain as peers and competitors increasingly recognize the learner, industry, and societal value of applied education and research. Propelled both by this competitive pressure and by unprecedented shifts in technology and industry, we must continue to lead the way through differentiation—new ideas and non-traditional solutions that equip and identify us as Canada’s premier polytechnic institution while also invigorating our internal community and partners.


Our Foundation for Differentiation Societal priorities change over time. The academic credential is not the sole destination anymore. To remain relevant and unique, our core objectives in the Education Plan are to amplify and embed our emphasis on interdisciplinarity, flexibility, and responsiveness. Interdisciplinarity means involving two or more academic disciplines or areas of knowledge. For BCIT, it often manifests as two or more Schools collaborating to create a more holistic learning experience and pursue applied research across technology boundaries. As the world becomes more complex, many new technologies and professions emerge — and some of the most transformative inventions occur — at the interface of traditional fields. Furthermore, graduates are expected to work confidently on multidisciplinary projects and teams, and to immediately apply systemic thinking. Flexibility in education translates into models that enable greater choice. Many students are now demanding the opportunity to customize their post-secondary path — including academic electives and tailored competencies — in pursuit of their career aspirations. Moreover, students increasingly require flexibility in how they study. A comprehensive spectrum of modular, online, and distributed learning methodologies is an essential component for strategic workforce development. Addressing complex problems through applied technology is the true realm of the polytechnic institute. Doing so well requires responsiveness and agility as both the problems and the possible solutions are


constantly being redefined. From micro-credentials to work-integrated learning, BCIT is exploring enriched mechanisms that enable close collaboration with employers, government, and other partners, so that we remain in step with the changing world around us. BCIT has tremendous strengths from which to build, from our applied and experiential education model to our connections with industry and our fast-growing Part-time Studies (PTS) offerings. Together, these sources of strategic advantage position us well for success in an increasingly competitive landscape. The Education Plan outlines three key channels through which we will pursue our objectives of interdisciplinarity, flexibility, and responsiveness: 1. Interdisciplinary programming. We will infuse interdisciplinary thinking and approaches into new and existing courses and credentials.

2. Open multidisciplinary credentials. We will leverage our flexible studies portfolio of offerings as the foundation for multidisciplinary and customizable credentials.

3. Centres of competence. We will establish interdisciplinary activity hubs that bring together partners to deepen shared expertise and develop methodologies to address emerging fields.

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Our Channels Nine initiatives coordinated across three distinct channels create a framework for action and accountability. These are truly pan-institutional endeavours, each of which will find success through combined efforts of academic and administrative units. And, these will be relevant far beyond the time frame of the 2019-22 matrix of institutional plans.

CHANNEL 1: INTERDISCIPLINARY PROGRAMMING 1. We will introduce more choice into our programs through course electives. 2. We will support departments and Schools in their efforts to design interdisciplinary credentials. 3. We will pursue the creation of living labs and shared ecosystems to foster teamwork and project-based learning.

CHANNEL 2: OPEN CREDENTIALS 1. We will review and renew our PTS model to forge the most effective platform for professional learning. 2. We will acknowledge other forms of education as we admit competency as an academic currency vis-Ă -vis traditional credit hours. 3. We will develop a matrix of flexible credentials in applied technology to serve those who seek dynamic solutions for lifelong learning.

CHANNEL 3: CENTRES OF COMPETENCE 1. We will identify and foster institutional assets to build clusters of expertise in pursuit of complex global challenges. 2. We will promote distinct signature activities that will showcase examples of BCIT’s overall expertise. 3. We will establish and sustain strategic partnerships to bolster and propel our centres of excellence.

As we pursue renewed distinction, we jointly set the foundation for enduring differentiation.

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Integration with the 2019–22 Strategic Plan The 2019-22 Strategic Plan fully integrates the Education Plan. Two of its three central commitments (future-proof applied education and globally relevant connections) directly emanated from the academic discourse during Ed Talks. The Strategic Plan is designed to leverage and extend those elements that define and differentiate teaching, learning, and research at BCIT—our experiential education model, our synergistic relationships with industry, our outstanding faculty and staff, and our diverse student body. The Strategic Plan approves and explicitly mandates the Education Plan, calling for tangible change through four of its constituent initiatives:

programming, the core theme of the Education Plan, aims to anchor BCIT ∆ Iasnterdisciplinary a leader in integrative learning (Initiative 4).

thorough review and renewal of our PTS model and the creation of open multidisciplinary ∆ Acredentials support our efforts to facilitate reskilling and improve learner access through flexible learning (Initiative 5).

nterdisciplinary centres of competence and the ongoing evolution of polytechnic ∆ Ipedagogies contribute to exceptional learning environments and communities and together help reinvent the way we collaborate with industry (Initiatives 6 and 8).

Other priorities that flow directly from both the Strategic and Education Plans include Indigenous learning, sustainability, applied research, and international education. Each of these will be laid out in their own distinct plans.

“As the world around us changes, the multidisciplinary focus of this Education Plan will ensure that we defend our position as British Columbia’s central polytechnic institute. The BCIT Education Council is excited to provide academic guardianship as we advance this bold plan, ensuring that we effectively balance the ability to adapt and retain our commitment to quality in all that we do.”  Jennifer Figner Chair, BCIT Education Council


Channel 1

Interdisciplinary Programming Interdisciplinary programming pursues the purposeful inclusion of curriculum from multiple Schools and departments to create a more holistic and transformative experience. We intend to strengthen our cohort programs through interdisciplinarity: through classroom, laboratory, and project interactions.


The BCIT cohort model is based on a traditional approach in which programs are developed and delivered predominately by a single department. Service courses may enrich and round off the curriculum but, in general, course content is prescriptive with little room for deviation. This model ensures an immersive and well-curated experience through which students work together to build deep knowledge and relevant skills in a given discipline. 1. W e will include more elective courses in our credentials as curriculum and programs are renewed. This will enable learners to supplement their core subjects with a secondary skill set they deem beneficial for their careers and provide space for emerging topics. 2. We will create more interdisciplinary programs to address the emergence of professions at the interface of traditional fields. This will help learners combine the expertise from various subject-matter experts into a new skill set, enabling them to bridge multiple fields in order to tackle an increasingly complex world. 3. W e will strive to establish more “living labs� and shared ecosystems that can serve as platforms for experiential interdisciplinary activities. These will provide opportunities for our students to work in complex environments that cross technology fields and to develop, through real-life application, the teamwork and communication skills critical for success in these contexts. Extending the concept of interdisciplinary learning, we will pursue new avenues of work-integrated learning (WIL) with our industry partners. Like all forms of experiential learning, it has the potential to extend the traditional model of hands-on training through conscious reflection on doing and scholarly discourse on how we learn. Work-integrated learning also, of course, offers the benefit of closer connection between employers and BCIT. Blending knowledge and situational awareness from different domains, we will also continue to evolve our interdisciplinary concept into applied research, innovation, and entrepreneurship, all of which require collaboration with industry and community partners.

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Channel 2

Open Credentials Aligned with our mandate of strategic workforce development and connection to industry, BCIT has identified a growing need for multidisciplinary and customizable education that can be offered alongside our traditional cohort model. Increasingly, employers and learners alike wish to select and combine courses that relate directly to specific career paths and provide immediate benefit through increased knowledge or skill.


BCIT is uniquely positioned to satisfy this demand through our PTS model, which enables learners to access education in small units, during evenings, weekends or online, and often with fewer prerequisites than those of our cohort-based programs. Such individualized education, however, has typically not led to certifiable academic standing. BCIT, in unison with our partner institutes across Canada, is committed to better supporting and recognizing flexible and generalist career paths. Our goal is to create an even more responsive learning platform that is complementary to our full-time offerings while, at the same time, well integrated with the expertise and infrastructure of the Institute. As part of this evolution, we will work towards the development of open multidisciplinary credentials that will both enrich the PTS model and usher in a new chapter in the progressive credentialing of the workforce. 1. W e will review and renew our PTS model to ensure that it constitutes the first choice for learners seeking to pursue their own multidisciplinary pathways. It will be also important to ensure that learners can access advisory support as they navigate their educational options at BCIT. 2. A s the emphasis of this model shifts from credit to competency, we will introduce mechanisms that facilitate the acknowledgement of education acquired beyond BCIT: external coursework, unique (including global) competencies, and prior learning experiences from industrial and professional environments. To best assess these, we will harmonize and augment our existing array of workforce consulting and credential evaluation services. 3. W e will create a framework of stacked and laddered credentials that can verify achievement at shorter intervals, which is consistent with the flexible recognition sought by industry and learners. Open multidisciplinary credentials not only address the need for lifelong learning in the workforce, but they also provide employers with a flexible professional development framework for their staff and a more granular platform to recognize the skills of foreign trained individuals. Beyond this, they allow high school graduates and career changers the opportunity to explore the many options available through applied education while receiving credit for the accumulated skill set. However, this model can only succeed by virtue of a stringent underlying quality framework and clear eligibility criteria. We will employ our own renowned quality assurance framework and work closely with industry partners, government, and peers to ensure the academic rigour and public recognition missing in many uncertified micro-credentials. Prior learning assessment must be supported by subject-matter experts and it must withstand scrutiny.

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Channel 3

Centres of Competence Accelerating technological evolution is changing the global economy at a fundamental level. Our institutional structures are not conducive to keeping pace with change and implicitly inhibit necessary interdisciplinary discourse. Interprofessional centres of competence complement the administrative model and bring together faculty with different areas of expertise. Defined carefully around themes rather than specifics, they enable agility and accommodate the rapid growth of new domains and priorities.

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Our goal is to broaden and enhance such areas of deep expertise in ways that showcase BCIT’s excellence, create robust platforms for internal and external collaboration, and amplify our effectiveness in attracting faculty and funding. These centres of competence will be catalysts for growth and reputation. True to our core mandate, the centres must provide a unique educational experience for our students and hone best practices in their fields. It will take time to define and design these centres and we will draw on the expertise of faculty and industry experts to take a methodical, coordinated approach. 1. W e will work with our partners to identify existing institutional assets and determine which of these assets can be clustered in order to provide the most compelling foundation for BCIT to establish a centre of competence. The long-term outcome is an array of interdisciplinary areas of prominence that together propel strategic differentiation. 2. A comprehensive focus on excellence at a polytechnic institution will boast multiple layers of competence: progressive levels of credentials, industry integration, and resident expertise. Building upon existing activities and networks, we will coalesce teams of people and design facilities to institutionalize these centres and we will invest strategically to fill the gaps. Some centres will be defined by a signature activity or feature strengths that serve as a beacon for the broader area of expertise—whether a person, facility, or program. A coordinated expansion of graduate degrees will foster scholarly activity and applied research, providing advanced entry points for exchange with national and international academic partners. 3. W e will pursue strategic industry partnerships that can strengthen and underwrite our centres of competence. By establishing mechanisms for purposeful and mutually reinforcing collaboration, we will create tangible and marketable entities that we can leverage both across the province and across the world. In return, this will attract national and international partners and expose our students to global leaders in technology. For a comprehensive institution like BCIT, it can prove difficult to construe an inclusive yet concise description of competency. By linking these centres—and indeed the Education Plan more broadly— to societal and environmental challenges, we can not only better set a course for planning but also capitalize on public discourse. These could include areas of shared concern like cybersecurity, or broader issues such as smart cities and global sustainability. Fully developed, these topics, or combinations thereof, can become institutional themes that pervade and define BCIT. Building tomorrow in a secure and sustainable way makes our investment in centres of competence an imperative that will yield benefit far beyond the academic domain.

“ Inspired by the BCIT community, internal and external, this Education Plan articulates an advanced educational vision befitting a modern, confident polytechnic institute. It stimulates our imagination, infuses new energy, and unlocks potential. As we soar to new heights together, it is an exciting time to be at BCIT.” Dr. Tom Roemer Vice President, Academic


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