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Dean Ortalo-Magné

Dean Hosts Panel Discussion on Impact of Education Innovation

by Staff Friday, October 12, 2012

VideoWatch the discussion.

Wisconsin School of Business Dean François Ortalo-Magné hosted a panel Thursday on the impact of educational innovation on the school and University of Wisconsin-Madison campus. Panelists discussed challenges with the way students are traditionally taught in classrooms and how technology can facilitate innovative learning.

The panel brought together three experts from private and public entities, each bringing different perspectives on educational innovation: Thomas J. Formolo, a partner at CHS Capital; Aaron M. Brower, interim provost at UW-Extension; and Erica R. Halverson, assistant professor at the UW-Madison School of Education.

The panelists emphasized that the root of many problems with modern higher education is that courses focus on teaching, rather than learning. Halverson argued that in order to create an effective curriculum, the teacher has to understand how students learn. She said that prior to the industrial revolution, apprenticeships and other hands-on learning were the most prevalent way of passing along knowledge.

“We got it right before we got it wrong,” Halverson said.

Yet education has not changed much in the last 100 years.

“If Benjamin Franklin were here today he would be confused by everything he saw until he walked into a classroom,” Formolo said.

The traditional higher education model, where a professor stands on a stage and pontificates to students is actually the least effective way to learn information, the panelists argued. According to Formolo, a person who teaches something retains 90% of the information, a person who has a discussion about a topic retains 50-70%, and a passive listener only learns about 10% of the information.

The panelists argued that the best way to facilitate learning is to utilize meaningful activities.

“We need to engage with students, which is the most fun part about education,” Brower said.

One strategy that online schools have pioneered and many traditional higher education institutions have implemented is a “flipped classroom,” which entails students reading or viewing content outside of the classroom on their own time, leaving classroom time for discussion. The teacher acts not as a lecturer, but as a facilitator and mentor.

The idea of a flipped classroom has only become possible recently with advancements in technology, and as a result, interest from private equity firms to help fund the technology has increased, said Formolo.