Greetings, Fellow Leopards!
This blog entry has been a long time coming, primarily because all of you have been doing so many things to keep Wentworth moving forward and becoming better and I’m just trying to keep up. Now, it’s the middle of the Fall semester, and mid-terms should be over. Grading them all will be keeping all of us busy over the weekend, at least.
During the gap between my blogs, the Academic Leadership Team has been very busy, mostly working on implementation strategies for EPIC Learning. We had our most recent half-day workshop this past week. I’m usually the one who says that when we think we’ve communicated enough, we’re usually too low by a factor of ten. It was pointed to me out that I haven’t been communicating through this blog as well as I should be. That is absolutely correct! So here’s what we did at the October ALT meeting.
First, we welcomed some new members to the team. Rick Trilling attended as a representative of Faculty Senate. Beth-Anne Cooke Cornell, Chair of the Faculty Senate, normally attends the ALT meetings, but she had classes to teach. This was the first ALT meeting for Robbin Beauchamp, the new Director of Career Services.
There were updates about the status of moving our curricula to include a half-day per week of EPIC Learning. Time continues to march on. The departments should be making their final changes to their curricula, and should be submitting them to the Institute Curriculum Committee for approval. If you look at the timeline, we’re well past the midpoint in the time we had between starting the planning for these changes and actually starting to teach the modified curricula.
I use the word modified guardedly, since many of our programs already include EPIC Learning in some form. Even if you look at the longer timeline which goes out to 2032, it’s obvious that we’re moving down the line towards the right and towards the first checkpoint of modifying our curricula and programs. Implementation isn’t too far away even with this larger scale view.
At the meeting, Associate Provost for Academic Operations Susan Paris gave the specific deadlines that must be in order to meet the Fall 2015 start date. Because any new courses must be scheduled with the registrar, everything needing to be changed must be completed by early January, including ICC approval and submission to the registrar’s office.
I presented my perspective on how I think we should be moving towards EPIC Learning using a set of Power Point slides that can be found here (soon to be added!). I’ve put the explanation of the slides in the notes, so if you download the file, click on the “View” tab and then click on “Notes Page,” you should be able to see both the slides and my notes. Essentially, moving towards the overlap of external collaboration, project-base and interdisciplinary can be done in steps. It doesn’t have to be done all at once. The idea is to move the way our students learn into the center of the overlap area as illustrated below. Sometimes we’re starting from completely outside of all components of EPIC; sometimes we starting from within one or more of the components, and, yes, sometimes we’re already there. The overlap should get bigger over time as more of curricula move into the EPIC Learning format.
The ALT then spent some time developing an “EPIC Learning Readiness Snapshot.” This was an attempt to measure where the members of the ALT felt their department and the Institute were along the path to achieving our goal. Each ALT member was asked to indicate along the position of a 0 to 100 % chart where he or she believed her or his department and the Institute currently fell. The results are shown below. The median for the Institute appears to be around 70%, and the median for the departments is about 80%. A few departments believe they have already achieved at least a half-day per week of EPIC Learning while one outlier is at only 30%. This is encouraging. I congratulate all of you on all of hard work that went into getting us so far up this steep path! The chairs were asked to repeat this exercise in each department and bring the results of their polls back to the next ALT meeting, so you should be hearing about this soon.
The ALT then spent some time working in their college group identifying the most important next steps need to create more progress toward implementing EPIC Learning. Each person was asked to write the one most important thing that she or he believed needed to be done for the department and for the college. Everyone was then given time to see what everyone else had written down, and to volunteer to help in areas where they could do so. We’ll all do better if we help each other out.
The ALT spent a lot of time reviewing and evaluating one of the questions from the Fall Wentworth Community Meeting. “Which of the following is the most important priority for the implementation of EPIC Learning?” The top three answers out of five were external collaborator identification and participation, funding and resources, and curricular modifications. The ALT was split into teams of three and each team was asked to identify its top three ideas to address each challenge. The ideas for each were grouped, and the ALT was given time to take a look at the work of all of the teams. The information from both exercises will be shared with everyone after it’s been transcribed by Jane, who’s working on it as I write this.
Perhaps the most exciting part of the day was a presentation by a team of architecture students – Siobhan Baker, Kiera Gates, Thomas Darr and Sam Maloney. The have been working with a team of about 20 other students to have a Wentworth entry in the Solar Decathlon in 2017. When they originally approached Interim Dean Chuck Hotchkiss, who then told me about it, I was skeptical. This project would necessarily require Institute wide buy-in and participation, and significant amounts of space and financial resources. However, it’s dangerous to underestimate our students! The team has put together a compelling presentation based on a tremendous amount of research. They’ve even contacted a number of teams that competed in the 2013 Solar Decathlon to get first-hand information and advice. The ALT was so impressed that this will be a major discussion topic at our next meeting. In the meantime, I’ve arranged for them to present their idea to the President’s Administrative Council and at an open forum on EPIC Learning for Wentworth students that will be held on 17 November. I’ve often said that it would be our students who pushed us to make EPIC Learning happen, and this is definitely the case with this team. Their fact sheet is attached here for your review (Solar Decathlon Proposal – 141024).
I’ll try to be more communicative in the future. EPIC Learning requires EPIC communication. There’s still a lot of work that’s been done that I need to tell you about.