E-learning Is Conducted Only In Virtual Classrooms, Where All Coursework Is Completed Online

Improving After-School Performance Using Classrooms in Virtual Earth.

E-learning Is Conducted Only In Virtual Classrooms, Where All Coursework Is Completed Online

Carson’s students still are mostly walking, talking and seeing each other in physical classrooms

Carson’s Assistant Executive Dean of the College of Technology, Deborah Short, has made a conscious effort to set high expectations for students and faculty members. Through this systematic focus, Carson could not only achieve its first accreditation (others seek reaccreditation in their third-year); it also sought the highest Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching ranking, was granted a spot on the U.S. News and World Report 2019 “Best Colleges” list, and led the nation in graduating nearly 50 percent of its class with concentrations in information systems (42 percent) and nanotechnology (13 percent). The college now is establishing itself as a progressive education institution.

The integration of technology in the education model at Carson is focused on creating a formal environment (described as one known as a “living lab”) that promotes innovation through active problem solving. (Disclosure: As the named subject matter expert for ProPublica’s Beyond Words blogging and podcast, I work closely with Deborah Short to communicate important initiatives in the world of education.) Carson connects student and faculty in the living lab. In other words, students learn by doing. They actually engage in undergraduate, graduate and doctoral-level projects at the Carlson School.

For example, based on her own research, Deborah Short has shown that when the Carson students get out into the world, one of the largest barriers for young adults pursuing careers in STEM fields is being able to get to jobs that are meaningful to them — jobs that are found in high-tech fields. The Carlson School has taken a central role in the creation of the Pipeline to Industry initiative. Working closely with labor representatives, education providers, industry leaders and others, the program seeks to develop a pipeline of students who are prepared to enter the global technology labor market. Participants can network with current students, opportunities for internship positions and tech-related employment are identified and connected. They gain technical skill development through industry-recognized courses. In turn, students are challenged in their professional development as they share their skills with companies and other members of the Carlson School community. Eventually, it will create a needed network of college graduates who can get high-tech industry jobs in Minnesota and beyond.

The college changed not only the way students learned at Carson; the administration and faculty also have sought ways to make an impact on the students’ wider lives through the college. For example, there is an annual workshop at the college that “elevates” STEM majors in order to honor their potential by providing them the opportunity to present their research to a panel of executives and STEM experts. During the fall, the college’s executive director of public relations, Heather Godinet, came up with the idea of taking a group of Carson students and their advisor from the main campus, Morris Bye, to New York City, San Francisco and Seoul, Korea, for a trip. The group toured current research centers of different companies and visited the area for meetings with organizations to hear about their projects. When they were at the educational gathering where most companies brought engineers, strategists and executives, the company representatives often spoke to the group, giving them the chance to learn from mentors and talk about their knowledge, knowledge that would soon be needed.

Creating access to online learning tools for various research projects, including career development

Requiring faculty to report at least four online teaching classes per semester, to make sure that all courses are meeting standards

Providing electric transportation to various faculty offices — the college now has 24/7 classes — allowing students and faculty to communicate more easily.

When students graduate with a particular concentration, they are given a chance to pursue a new academic field based on an activity. There is even a student organization — the Third Century Society — that encourages active project projects that focus on sharing their knowledge with the wider community. For example, Carson has students looking into the use of carbon nanotubes in conducting energy and energy storage.

The goal at Carson is to make learning an exciting, engaged and challenging experience.

— Sue Owen is assistant editorial director for ProPublica’s Beyond Words blog. She is a nonprofit media expert and a former executive director of the 501(c)(3) at the journalism and media educational foundation J-Lab.

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