Part of working in higher education is spending a good portion of each day trying to solve problems. What if you could address the concerns of faculty, staff and students while building your school’s relationship with its publishing partners, vendors and wholesalers — in just one event? It sounds too good to be true, but that’s what Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, recently did.
The college’s cross-functional committee of staff, faculty, IT and the bookstore conceived the innovative idea behind the expo. Once they pinpointed a specific area to focus on, they were able to turn it into an opportunity for growth. Rather than having the publishing representatives meet with faculty during office hours, the committee presented a solution to the problem. Instructors were excited to maintain their office hour focus to the student. If they brought everyone together for a day, many of the faculty and staff¹s questions could be answered and they could address a communication concern.
In conjunction with their yearly Collaborative Learning Days (professional development classes for faculty and staff), they hosted their first College Classroom Connections Expo with the hope of improving faculty and publisher relations. Publishing partners, several vendors and MBS Wholesale were invited to take part in the event. The day was filled with conversations about integrating technology, cost-savings strategies and emerging trends.
Digital components in education was one of the most popular topics, with discussions ranging from how to implement technology in the classroom to the cost-saving benefits to the students. The faculty inquired about popular trends, eBooks and what initiatives were on the horizon. Through the relaxed discussions on this engaging topic, everyone gained a better understanding of how technology fits into education.
MBS Wholesale fielded questions from the 100 registrants about their partnership with the bookstore and their role in providing students with low-cost alternatives. They explained how early adoptions help college stores secure used textbooks for the upcoming semester and aides them in buying decisions at end-of-term buybacks as well as how to save students money with textbook rentals.
“By partnering with MBS for a rental solution, we alleviate the rental decision making process for faculty. This still provides them flexibility and freedom with their textbook selections from term to term,” said Heidi Ellingboe, marketing representative with MBS Textbook Exchange, Inc. “No huge overhead for the bookstore, no long-term commitment from faculty and savings to the students.”
By helping the attendees engage in face-to-face conversations with their publishers and course materials partners, they opened the door to communication that allowed a free flow of ideas and topics that benefits not only the college, but the students as well.
“The survey conducted after the event with the publishing partners was overwhelmingly positive,” said Julie Copeland, director of retail stores for Kirkwood Community College. “All of the guests had a great experience and many offered to even do more next time — like hosting their own informational session.”
At the end of the day, the Kirkwood Community College faculty and staff came away from the event having spoken face-to-face with their publishing partners, gained information about the options available to them through different vendors and learned how to contribute to saving students money on course materials.
The organizers are already looking at ways they can improve future events by better assisting the faculty in engaging the publishers, continuing to build the scope of the event with more hands-on sessions and encouraging all of the faculty and staff to attend.