Sri Zaheer

The Evolving Education Experience

Monday, April 24, 2017

As white boards supplanted chalk boards in classrooms, now white boards are slowly giving way to computer screens. In many cases, the classroom isn’t even necessary. Welcome to the new world of education delivery, where how we teach is just as important as the topics we discuss.

The most significant driver behind this fast-changing landscape is the increasing capability of technology. As technology improves, it becomes much easier to incorporate more of it into our curriculum, both inside and outside of the classroom.

Inside, we can provide a much more engaging learning environment for our students, whether we’re working with computer simulations or engaged in a Skype discussion with our counterparts on the other side of the globe.

Outside, we can offer online educational experiences for those unable by distance or time to attend a physical classroom. As part of the University of Minnesota, we have a land-grant mission to serve the entire state. Online classes help in this manner, driving greater access both in the metro area and across the region, not to mention nationally and globally.

Another development in recent years has been a recognition of the need to improve teaching methods in general. We have seen the retreat of the “sage on the stage” and the rise of the “guide on the side.” Students are looking to be more engaged in their education. Their desire has led to the creation of truly innovative learning environments—flipped classrooms, hybrids, and compressed classes, to mention a few. The format of these classes may vary, but the quality of education they provide is inviolable.

Students also seek programs more tailored to their future goals. In the last few years, we’ve seen a tremendous growth in specialty masters programs—business analytics, supply chain, finance, industry—and more are in the works. And starting this fall, a new undergraduate minor in business law is being offered jointly by the Carlson School and the Law School. Most of these new programs feature an experiential component. In surveys of students, hands-on learning remains near the top of the list of their most impactful educational experience.

In our last issue, we introduced a new section of the magazine called Engagement and Giving, where we pay tribute to the champions of our school and showed the true impact their support has on our students, our faculty, and our mission. Response to the section has been unanimously positive and I’m happy to announce it returns here with new stories of generosity and stewardship. In this section, we also announce the beginnings of a quite significant capital endeavor. It is truly an exciting time.

As always, I hope you enjoy this issue and I look forward to hearing your thoughts and opinions.