Here’s a crazy idea: instead of trying to teach people by drowning them in books and materials, lets put them in the situations they’ll experience after college, while they’re in college. Crazy you say? Well Business schools have been doing this for a long time: it’s called the case method. Harvard Business school claims to be the originators of the idea, although I’ve come across the concept in various books on learning theory and teaching.
The challenge is that case or situational based learning requires different skills from professors and teachers. The teacher dominant model (think of your favorite grade school horror story), where there is one path of learning that the teacher defines, is easier to manage. But it’s controlled to the point where students contribute little to their own learning. And since it’s all tightly scripted, teachers are quickly bored by their own lesson plans.
CASE based teaching demands an interactive style, where discussion, interpretation and improvisation are primary to the experience. The teacher has to be able to intense classroom discussion of opinions and ideas, a skill many teachers don’t have (or are afraid to try and learn). It also demands a sense of incision and a point of view: something everyone has but many teachers are afraid to express.
Programming, design and management all benefit greatly from CASE based teaching, but it’s rare to see, even from professional trainers and consultants. And as far as colleges, many curriculums disapoint: even the senior projects rarely expose students to the challenges they’ll face after they leave school, and even fewer do it in a format worthy of their time.
Anyone have examples of CASE or situation based courses for managers, designers and programmers? Undegraduate or graduate?