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July 2, 2011 / compassioninpolitics

Re-thinking the university process: design thinking for university communication.

From the moment I read a universities literature I should know:

1. who its for? (ie if its for me)
2. why its credible?
3. what benefits career, education, and emotionally it provides.
4. the process of education (if sustainability is a question in business….it should be even 100x for humans)

My suggestion is that at least from day 1 or week 1 of attendance:

1. process
2. university ecosystem

should be summed up in a visual diagram, which explains the offerings & benefits in less than 3 pages. In terms of the process, I think it can be done in one. It should be end to end, with encouragement for students to take initiative.

Project and Experience Based Learning:
This is far, far more important than any of the one elective classes I can remember from school (computer technology–almost entirely useless as it was taught where I attended–it was taught both as a series of vocab quizes, which I can’t remember to this date. Vocab quizes should be less than 20% of any class. Thinking, doing, and solving should be 60 to 70% and the remainder should probably be class discussion–obviously some space for writing and interviews and research is probably important–but the vast bulk should be experienced based. its really ok if grades are more subjective–100% objective grading and testing is not the purpose of the learning process. That I have to say that is silly–it should be standard practice that teachers go beyond the test–often far beyond it.).

Do you learn to farm by knowing the vocabulary or actually doing it? Do you learn how to lead by knowing the vocabulary or actually doing it? Schools which don’t weave this notion into the very essence of who they are–are doing their students a disservice. Unfortunately, the echochamer and myopic assumptions of education for the last 200 years have often moved in the opposite direction (even if the theory has been saying this was silly for the last 200 years). You think businesses are behind and silly for not being online or in various social networks—and I think its 10x more eggregious to not have tangible experiences, including network connections built into the curriculum. What are the teachers scared of: 1) opportunities for projects are just a phone call away to other teachers and schools who are getting it right–who realize their impact has to transcend the outdated lecture model 2) the opportunities for interviews exist as projects for students and opportunities for them to present to the class. In addition, the opportunities created by free video conferencing technology like Skype means that experts in NYC, DC, and LA can suddenly be teleported into the classroom environment so that students can get exposure to a truly multi-cultural environment. How can we prepare students for the workplace of tomorrow if we aren’t exposing them at least a little bit to the expertise, ideas, models, and experiences which are actually being used. The only concern is how can we ensure that this is still self-directed in nature… that the learning process is both relevant and personalized and still maintain the integrity and value of a humanities education.

Why do students hate school? Its not relevant, its not tangible, and its not personalized. This solves all those 3 problems (as well as their ability to zone out to 180 minutes of lecturing each week).

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