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UM College of Engineering Team Delves Deeper into Student-Centered Learning at Olin College’s Collaboratory Summer Institute

Faculty and staff delved deep into pedagogical innovation this summer at “Designing Student-Centered Learning Experiences,” the Collaboratory Summer Institute hosted by Olin College of Engineering. During the intensive weeklong workshop, held in June at Olin’s campus in Needham, Massachusetts, they learned more about successful student-centered teaching techniques, as well as about how to share those techniques with other faculty. Derin Ural, College of Engineering professor in practice and associate dean for student affairs; Ines Basalo, assistant professor in practice in the CoE’s Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department; and Gemma Henderson, senior instructional designer from UM Academic Technologies, joined 70 participants from 11 countries at the institute. The three are among the leaders in furthering the College of Engineering’s Strategic Initiative on “Redefining Engineering Education.”

Olin College’s faculty led each session at the workshop, based on their ongoing institutional educational research. Olin’s faculty created hands-on teaching activities within a simple project-based learning goals framework. Teams from each institution worked together to outline institution-specific projects, then made meaningful strides towards completion of those projects in Olin’s faculty interactive project studio.

Ural, Basalo and Henderson learned how Olin College faculty members are applying and generating educational research from their courses. They also learned, from Olin faculty members’ research and experiences, how to produce and share simple-yet-effective resources to support faculty development. And, Olin faculty worked with them on designing meaningful learning experiences for students through active learning. “The design of each session, activity and guidance was truly outstanding and inspirational,” Henderson says. “Each day we discovered new ideas and approaches for impactful learning.”

The University of Miami will continue to work with Olin College, and in January the University plans to host a student-centered learning workshop in Miami, given by Olin’s faculty.

The institute and continuing partnership with Olin are part of a variety of faculty development activities in flipped and active learning, in alignment with the goals of the CoE’ Active Learning Initiative. Henderson, who supports faculty across the University in the implementation of technology and evidence-based teaching strategies, says that Ural had asked UM Academic Technologies to assist with faculty development opportunities in those areas. “Since that meeting, Ural and the Active Learning Committee have partnered with Academic Technologies through monthly meetings,” she explains. They “share ideas, challenges and recommendations as they explore active learning strategies in face-to-face and online teaching.” As part of this partnership between the CoE and UM Academic Technologies, the College invited Henderson to join Ural and Basalo at the Olin College institute.

Henderson, Ural and Basalo will use what they learned and worked on at the institute to further enhance the CoE’s student-centered learning practices, and also will help to educate other faculty around the University. “With thanks to the College of Engineering and their vision to develop a culture of innovative teaching and learning,” Henderson says, “I look forward to sharing Olin College’s resources and techniques with the academic community at the University of Miami.”

To learn more about the event, please click here.

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