Key Takeaways

  • Students are much more capable of independent learning than we think

  • Engineering is NOT a body of knowledge, it is a process

  • Working in teams can create a momentum of learning

  • Focusing on problems that matter, learning in context, and collaborating in teams can build both competence and mindset

  • None of this is limited to engineering

  • An engineer is a person who envisions what has never been and does whatever it takes to make a better world

We know that the “sage on the stage” model of education was designed for the “knowledge economy” because it is efficient in transferring knowledge. We know it works because we can test what the students know.

  • Sage on the stage model is less relevant today because information is readily available and doesn’t need to come from professors or instructors. Ex: Google.

Instruction is now migrating to a  “guide on the side” model where teachers are more like coaches than lecturers and students are assigned to work in small groups with maker projects. This process of learning is designed for the maker economy.

  • The key is not what you know, but what you can do with what you know.

  • Life is a maker project(!)

The future is focused on the innovation economy where what matters most is original ideas and insights that come from the students. It isn’t clear yet what the best format is for teaching innovation. It may depend more on peer learning, intrinsic motivation and design thinking than having a PhD at the front of the room.

Academic disciplines can be thought of as focused largely on feasibility (engineering and science), viability (business and economics), and desirability (psychology, arts and humanities).

  • Innovation occurs at the intersection of feasibility, viability, and desirability

  • No amount of emphasis on narrow specialized courses will produce the innovators we need

Mindsets—which can be defined, measured, and taught—are the collection of attitudes, behaviors and motivations that students develop. Today, these may be as important as content knowledge:

  • Collaborative mindset

  • Entrepreneurial mindset

  • Interdisciplinary mindset

  • Global mindset

  • Ethical mindset

Lessons learned form COVID

  • Learning is not a place but an activity

  • Remote learning can be very effective: engagement is the key

  • But—remote learning poorly addresses social and emotional objectives such as belonging and teamwork

  • Making and building online present significant challenges

  • Access to reliable quality online resources amplifies inequality

Change is needed in higher education

  • The public is unhappy with higher education

  • Public is losing confidence that higher education is worth the cost

  • Higher education is not known for its commitment to student wellbeing

  • Now working with the Coalition for Life-Transforming Education

    • Not just focused only on content knowledge, but also on attitudes, behaviors and beliefs

    • A good education changes what you know; a great education changes who you are