Similarly to two years ago, I’m again writing while on the road, but this time I'm NOT returning from a lecture-based conference on disruption in education. This time I'm coming from a hands-on professional development experience designed and managed by Café Learn, my own innovative and disruptive company--our first Engaged Learning BootCamp at California State University (CSU) Dominguez Hills. The BootCamp, funded by CSU with support from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, was designed and organized to introduce the faculty to the Café Learn platform, and to provide an arsenal of tactics for driving student engagement.
During the BootCamp, we focused on how to design campus-based courses that focus on student mastery of outcomes and content affordability. Julie Schell, an international expert in Peer Instruction, flipped classrooms, and pedagogical innovation debunked some of the myths around flipping the classroom. For example, she confirmed that lectures still have great value—as long as they're delivered in chunks and broken up with other learning activities. TJ Bliss, Program Officer in the Education Program at the Hewlett Foundation, led a candid conversation about Open Educational Resources.
Leaders at CSU facilitated hands-on workshops and then participants worked in course-based cohorts to build their courses. Leslie Kennedy of CSU Affordable Learning Solutions explained the CSU AL$ initiative and provided strategies for finding and curating affordable, library and open education resources. Emily Magruder, system-wide head of faculty development, helped faculty to create outcomes-based courses, and Debra Jackson of CSU Bakersfield provided innovative approaches to assessment. Mary-Pat Stein, of CSU Northridge, brought down the house while introducing us to a slew of free (or close to free)student engagement tools.
The two-day event drew instructors from 17 CSU institutions, who worked in discipline-based cohorts to build their courses engaging AND affordable courses using the Café Learn platform. A cohort of business professors from Fullerton, Dominguez Hills, and Bakersfield, for example, brainstormed on ways to share outcomes and related resources across the business curricula. They connected as colleagues, didn’t hesitate to share and discuss issues they'd face trying to engage with their students, and were empowered to create the course experience of the future, together.
Again I ask, is education ripe for innovation? Of course it is, but as Julie Schell noted, “It’s not about the technology, it’s about the pedagogy.” Café Learn makes it easy to deliver learning experiences that are based on great pedagogy. Our platform empowers instructors to create engaging and successful class experiences—not to mention, have some fun. We can all agree with Mary-Pat Stein, “Make it fun, every day. I know that if I’m not having fun, they're not having fun.