Nationwide, innovative programs are implementing strategies to make education more relevant to students and their careers. The success of these efforts proves the effectiveness of a new approach to learning environments.
These case studies are not the work of EDCO nor Gould Evans, but serve as exemplary education models. Images and synopses are sourced from each respective organization.
Extensive undergraduate and postgraduate apprenticeship portfolio
Northumbria University's apprenticeship opportunities provide both university study and workplace learning to address skill gaps within the workforce and upskill employees to deal with future challenges and drive productivity gains. By accessing public funding, businesses can provide experience with little extra cost to the organization.
Lifelong learning for students, educators, faculty, and professionals
Make + Think + Code is a media and technology-focused institute, research studio, and lab that brings together members of Portland’s vibrant creative, tech, civic, and educational communities to explore the powerful role that creativity and technology play in the search for imaginative and impactful solutions to complex and urgent problems.
Fast-paced, non-degree, multidisciplinary innovation model
D-School does not offer degrees. Instead, it offers elective classes open to students from majors across the university to employ the design thinking process to solve complex, multidisciplinary challenges. Teaches skillsets most demanded by today’s employers, including collaboration, complex problem solving, and fast prototyping
Education meets start-up
The Harvard Innovation Lab (i-lab) is open to any Harvard student with any idea at any stage of formation. Post-graduation, select teams and other qualified applicants move to the Launch Lab, a prototype co-working space and program of funded alumni ventures.
“We want it to look different than our other spaces at the Business School and have it be a place where it’s ok to spill oil on the floor.”
Partnering businesses, communities, and public education to produce personalized learning experiences that educate the workforce of tomorrow
Center for Advanced Professional Studies (CAPS) programs immerse students in a professional culture, solving real-world problems and using industry standard tools. Students are mentored by actual employers, all while receiving high school and college credit.
FOUND UNIVERSITY EXPERIENCE WORTH THE COST
Work-learn program benefitting both employers and learners
Students are placed in semester-long, full-time jobs to gain hard and soft skill experience, while the employer gets a cost-effective means to evaluate a potential future STEM employee. Northeastern manages the intersection of customization (to the needs of employers) and personalization (to the needs of the learner).
Competency-based flexible and individualized degree programs
New degrees are not tied to credit hours and 15-week schedules. Co-op programs and internships allow students to integrate up to three work experiences into their degree and “mini-mesters” focus on portfolio development, resume building, and interview coaching as an integrated part of semester classes.
Accelerated, competency-based delivery model
A new degree taking shape aims to combine a liberal arts bachelor's degree with a vocational master's degree, all within the timeframe of four years. Students could earn a competency in a fraction of a course or, more importantly, outside school walls via internships or projects.
Taking learning out of the classroom and into the workplace
PREP-KC Career Academies prepare Kansas City’s urban students for the regional workforce by providing intensive preparation for high-growth, high-demand careers. Students receive guidance and mentoring from industry professionals, and participate in summer institutes that extend learning year-round. Graduates leave high school with college credit, workforce credentials, and real-world experience.
Providing rigorous STEM education for college and career success
The curriculum emphasizes critical thinking, creativity, innovation, and real-world problem solving in areas of study like engineering technology, civil engineering, and biomedical science.
Pairing startups with recent college graduates (for two years) to bridge the education-to-workplace continuum
The 150 fellows accepted into the program begin with a five-week bridge program to learn about product design, public speaking, and entrepreneurship. They then fan out to 100 companies and earn annual salaries of around $38,000, and, sometimes, equity.
Integrating graduate students into the workplace
Graduate students collaborate extensively with tech-oriented companies and organizations to pursue their own start-ups. Workspace within partner businesses provide space for students and employees to collaborate on partner ventures.
Rethinking the idea of a physical campus to provide international, real-world experience
Students move around the world each year (e.g., Buenos Aires, Berlin, Seoul) and take morning classes to free up afternoons for internships and city exploration. The program provides students a perfect match of theory and practice, all while building resilience as they learn to navigate around real cities.
Modeling education after the startup, with added benefit of faculty and professional mentorship
Student-generated projects are supported toward tangible impact by this integrated learning, research, and engagement program. Students are challenged to increase their capacities for independent inquiry; take intellectual risks; learn from failures; collaborate; and effect constructive and sustainable change.
Alternating students between four-month periods on campus and in the workplace
Students are accustomed to toggling between long stretches in the classroom and the work world, moving seamlessly between theory and application.
Providing college preparatory education through on-the-job training
The Cristo Rey Corporate Work Study Program (CWSP) places teams of four students in a full-time entry-level position, with each student working five days per month. CWSP secures student work permits, manages taxes, and provides insurance, relieving the business of these responsibilities. Students also receive training in personal development, business etiquette, and entry-level office skills.
Debt-free job training program culminating with guaranteed employment
Students choose from more than 20 occupational areas and are paid an annual salary of $54,000 by the final year of the program ($10,000 more than the average bachelor's degree recipient). Students graduate debt-free and are guaranteed a job with the military contractor that operates Newport News Shipbuilding.
Applying classroom education to real-world, faculty-led training
First- and third-year cadets depart for two months each summer on a Training Cruise with licensed faculty officers. During these periods at sea, cadets integrate their intellectual learning with applied technology and leadership development.
Applying design thinking approach to systemic problems
Minnesota Design Center students use their training in architecture and design to tackle intractable problems in fields far from urban planning or buildings. The students have been recruited to work on the challenges embedded in big systems, like public health.
"There will always be people who can design buildings. Now what the world really needs are people who can help with these bigger systematic failures."
— Thomas Fisher, Director
Learning soft skills through the development of hard skills
The Culinary Institute of America uses the kitchen as a teaching device for students to confront unexpected problems, learn leadership skills, and start to see the interlocking human and technical systems.
Using the co-working model to blend students with employers
Galvanize brings industry partners, ambitious students, world-class education, and passionate founders under one roof. The campus serves as a home base to startups with all the amenities of a co-working space, plus learning opportunities, resources, and access to a growing startup network.
Embodying the skills and approach sought by employers
Design studios demand development of core competencies like collaborative work, ideation to solve complex problems, presentations and persuasive communications, rapid prototyping, and more. Students express ownership of studios that are highly flexible, messy, and raw.
Harnessing resources and relationships to support employability
The Business Boot Camp for Liberal Arts Students is an undergraduate initiative that functions as a bridge program. They strive to stay current with the employment market by drawing on the perspectives of individuals on its employer partner advisory board.
"We're thinking of career development as a continuum of experiences."
— Trudy Steinfield, Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs and Executive Director of the Wasserman Center for Career Development
Shifting academic focus to the public realm to provide real-world experience
After Hurricane Katrina forced the university to shut down for an entire semester in 2005, the city and Tulane became dependent on each other to fuel their collective recoveries. Tulane mandates that all undergraduates complete two courses in community service.
"The city turned into our campus."
— Scott Cowen, Former University President