Recently, I finally got around to listening to one of my favorite podcasts, Freakonomics Radio. A couple of weeks ago, they came out with an installment called “How Is a Bad Radio Station Like the Public School System?” (Click here for their blog entry about it). It focuses on customization and highlights a pilot program called The School of One being done by the NYC Board of Education. It’s a pretty cool pilot program that they have launched, and it focuses on providing students with a customized style of education, like (as discussed in the podcast) Pandora radio.
It got me thinking about Higher Education. Our in-class curriculum methods are just as outdated (I know there are professors out there that are more modern and being innovative) as K-12. However, if you step outside the box of a second, Higher Education does provide students with different ways to learn and the main people behind it are us, the Student Affairs Professionals.
We provide students the opportunity to learn in a variety of ways that leads students to develop transferrable skills, explore of their identity, and many other learning outcomes. We are the ones pushing to integrate tools such as social media in Higher Education. Since it is summertime, this is a great time to think about concepts like this. Here are some things to think about:
Dynamic Learning Outcomes: We tend to know (consciously or subconsciously) what outcomes we want students achieve during our daily interactions with them. However, in this day and age, students tend to know what they want and are much more consumer driven. I know this is typically a characteristic labeled on millennials but, based on my experiences working at an institution with non-traditional students, they are just as consumer driven.
We need to ask them, what do you hope to get out of this? Our learning outcomes should be dynamic instead of static. This will help you to also re-adjust outcomes if you misjudged the first time around.
Flexible teaching style: What if our style is not working for that particular student(s)? Our methods for engaging our students must be flexible so that we can adapt our skills to how our student(s) best learn. This will benefit both you and those that you are work with.
Open and Constant feedback: In order to achieve my first two points, you need to have open feedback with your students and it needs to constantly happen. Receiving feedback will help you to adjust your methods so that the process works for both you and your students. I think it can also help you to make sure your students understand your outcomes. Having an engaging talk about this topic may help your students to embrace the outcomes versus insisting that they need to change.
So, keep up the good work my fellow colleagues and continue to find ways to both innovatively engage and educate college students. Having students collaborate with us in their learning will reap lots of rewards.