Attend classes via robot? Reflecting on Innovations 2016 conference highlights

Robot picture with Bruce Forciea

The following is a personal reflection of the Innovations 2016 conference by Bruce Forciea, anatomy and physiology instructor at Moraine Park Technical College:

It’s a Monday evening in Chicago and I am enjoying the wonderful lobby of the Sheraton Grand hotel after another day of the Innovations 2016 conference. The Innovations conference is a national event that showcases best practices for teaching and new ideas for community colleges. I always find conferences and public speaking a refreshing change from teaching my Anatomy and Physiology courses here at MPTC. My presentation yesterday on Audio/Video production went well and afterward I was able to take a deep breath, relax and, focus on learning. I attended a smorgasbord of presentations over the past two days covering a variety of topics. Here are some of the highlights.

Major Vibe

Many community colleges are facing similar issues such as the dichotomy between placing a high value on education in order to train the workforce but facing decreasing funding for it.

Coolest Thing

One college uses robots that students can use to attend class if they are unable to due to illness (see pic).

Most Energetic Performance

A trio of professors presented various techniques for engaging students during class. I was impressed by the energy of the first professor who begins her class with inspirational quotes and uses the Appreciative Inquiry model of engagement. No dozing in this one!

Aha Moment

A lot of us use technology in the classroom such as websites, videos, and apps so why not organize these according to Bloom’s Taxonomy? One instructor did this to reinforce the learning cycle.

Best Physical Thing I Came Away With

Besides a few additions to my pen collection and an assortment of promotional trinkets, I was happy to receive a full-sized hard cover A&P text from OpenStax (Rice University). Thanks to the OpenStax people for responding to my enthusiasm for their text.

Best Meal

This was a no-brainer. Pizza from Giordano’s!

Best Recreational Moment

Watching the Wisconsin basketball team win their game against Xavier in the final 2 seconds. The look on Bill Murray’s face—Priceless!

Worst Dramatic Moment

Discovering there was no internet on the 4th floor during my presentation!

Major Realization

After attending a session on generational differences, I realized that not only I must work to understand the generational differences in my classes but should also take into consideration that students need to deal with my generational quirks.

Best Self-Improvement Tip

One instructor incorporates public speaking techniques into his lectures. There seems to be more and more use of elements of the flipping model whereby students are given content before class so that they can focus on the sticking points and application of knowledge during class. This instructor did a variation where he spent a good deal of his lecture time illustrating content with case studies and interesting stories.

Interesting Statistics

There were a lot of stats in the presentation but a couple that made an impression on me were that although 90-some percent of students say they prefer hard copy texts, according to the OpenStax folks only 10% of students actually order them. Also, according to research from Humber College, of all of the social media available, students use Facebook for courses the most and don’t want to connect with their instructors.

So, those are a few of my many takeaways from the conference. I always find it motivating to soak up the energy from people who are inspired by what they do. I came away even more pumped and very grateful to be able to do what I do.

If you’d like to learn more about these topics, contact me, Dr. Bruce Forciea, at You can also visit this website for more information about me.

If you’d like to learn more about the courses I teach, or any other programs at Moraine Park, visit


Written by Bruce Forciea