With the Annual Conference in Santa Clara just a week away, we asked CWEA members Alina Constantinescu and Abigail Gomez about the value of 21st Century Education and how it’s changing the way we learn. Alina began her career in the water quality field in 2003 at the City of Los Angeles Department of Public Works. In 2008 she moved to the Bay Area and has been working as a Project Engineer at Larry Walker Associates ever since. Alina is the incoming Chair of CWEA’s Pretreatment, Pollution Prevention, and Stormwater (P3S) Committee. Abigail is the outgoing conference chair for P3S and is an Environmental Compliance Inspector with the City of Riverside.
Since CWEA as an association has been on the 21st Century Education path, what have you seen change?
AC: I’ve enjoyed participating in the interactive learning sessions at conferences and workshops. The speakers are more dynamic and thus audience members are more engaged. It’s been fun exchanging ideas and getting to know the people at ‘my table’.
What are the positive impacts from 21st Century Learning on the association, the members, the conference attendees? And do you practice this in your own agency?
AC: Through interaction between the speakers and the audience as well as between audience members themselves, the learning style has changed. I believe everyone involved retains more information while also getting to know their colleagues. It’s a win-win. I strive to incorporate the same active learning style in presentations at my own job.
Has it changed how you lead, collaborate and think critically in your professional life?
AC: 21st Century Learning has made me more aware of the way people learn – with active participation and audience engagement as key elements of a successful presentation. I strive to apply these principles when presenting to colleagues and clients.
AG: CWEA’s 21st Century Education approach has been and continues to be well received by the P3S community. As evidence, many attendees at the 2016 P3S Conference in Riverside commented to me on how refreshing and innovative the opening session was compared to prior years. This style of learning is providing various attendees to learn and absorb material through new and creative ways. The approach can be summarized in one simple phrase…less yawning and more interaction.
Having attended the Annual Conference in San Diego last year I had the opportunity to see Jeff Hurt shake things up at the opening session and saw how well it was received by the attendees. So when it came to planning the opening session for the P3S conference I gave Jeff free range and encouraged him to think outside of the box. Attendees walked into the opening session layout and immediately observed that it was socially uncomfortable and encouraged interaction. Once the opening session began it was difficult to get people to stop talking, which I have never witnessed in the past. With the help of CWEA’s Staff, the P3S Executive Committee, Program Chair: Cassie Pruhdel, Room Moderators, Session Chairs, Speakers and all of the Volunteers the conference in Riverside was incredibly successful. I thoroughly enjoyed being part of the conference and chairing the committee. I highly encourage anyone looking for a challenge to contact anyone on the P3S Committee or CWEA staff.
AC: I expect CWEA will continue as California’s leading wastewater training and certification organization.
Is the 21st century model working?
AC: I can’t speak for everyone, but it’s definitely working for me. To be fair, I hear good feedback from others, too.
How have you become versed in this new wave of learning? Share your thoughts about 21st Century Education in the comment section below.