Change typically doesn’t happen overnight, especially in the world of education, but to paraphrase Goldie Blumenstyk from The Chronicle of Higher Education, the Coronavirus could be the “black swan” moment for higher education as we know it. Colleges by the dozen are canceling in-person classes and scrambling to create remote-teaching alternatives. The reverberations from coronavirus will be a reset moment that prompts colleges to rethink how they operate at every level.
Of course, like all teams and organizations, CapSource has been thinking critically about keeping people safe, reducing risks, and making the most out of this unforeseen situation for us and our clients. As you might expect, we agree with Goldie! We’re seeing a lot of schools think differently about what it means to be a student in the 21st century and how to optimize their learning experience no matter their interests, field of study, experience level, or physical location.
CapSource is encouraging educators and school administrators everywhere to think more broadly about what it means to go “virtual” with their curriculum. Too much of online learning has been about moving the same old curriculum into a digital form.
Rather than morphing live lectures, tests, and quizzes into virtual versions of the same thing, we’re helping our university partners try something completely new by exposing students virtually to real-world organizations, their employees, and their business challenges.
If you’re unfamiliar with industry-integrated project based experiential learning, take a look at our experiential learning framework, which outlines the approach we use to help schools build collaborative learning engagements in conjunction with industry partners. Through our projects, students practice using critical soft skills — such as communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity — and key technical skills (like Tableau, AutoCad, Photoshop, G-Suite, SQL, and Jira) in an effort to produce real business outcomes for real stakeholders. CapSource students walk away from these engagements with reference-worthy experiences that they can add to their resumes and discuss on job interviews.
By going virtual with industry collaborations, educators are able to teach students the complexities of working on distributed teams, which has been increasing in popularity long before the Coronavirus outbreak. With experience conducting virtual meetings, collaboratively managing projects using virtual tools, and successfully delivering project results through a fully virtual environment, emerging professionals can separate themselves as a prime candidate for the roles that interest them once officially in the professional work environment post-graduation.
Virtual project-based learning isn’t new to CapSource, or to the 50+ universities that we serve. Over 70% of our projects are run predominantly [or entirely] online. We pride ourselves on helping schools carefully design and seamlessly integrate industry collaborations into the curriculum so that they lead to valuable outcomes for all parties involved (the educator, the industry partner, and the student).
For example, this past Fall, CapSource ran a fully Virtual Live Case Competition in collaboration with IACBE. Nine teams from different schools around the world competed to come up with the best ideas for a medical device company, Munevo, that challenged the students to come up with a USA Go-To-Market Strategy. Each team had regular interaction with Munevo (through emails, webinars, and virtual office hours), all leading to the virtual delivery of a final written memo and recorded presentation.
We also took a moment to catch up with our client, Cherie Serota, the Director of the Fashion Merchandising Program at Long Island University, to learn more about how she’s been able to “virtually pivot” her Live Case collaboration with London-based AllEyes since her academic tour of London, including the scheduled in-person final presentation, was canceled. Cherie said, “We’re teaching our students how to react to unforeseen circumstances and make the most out of any situation. Although delivering the final presentation in-person in London would have been amazing, we feel fortunate to be able to use this as a real-world learning opportunity to teach students how to navigate uncertainty while remaining focused on accomplishing their team’s goals.”
Cherie also mentioned that the research-oriented nature of the project made the fully-virtual approach pretty seamless. Her class is prepared to finish the project and deliver the final results, even if the whole campus goes virtual for the remainder of the semester. Cherie also added, “These live experiential collaborations are about pushing students to think and act like professionals. Often, they really don’t even understand their true potential. As the facilitator, I remind them that they have the skills they need to succeed, that they need to be patient with companies, and that they need to work hard with their teams in order to solve challenging, real-world problems that have real stakes.”
CapSource offers a suite of software and services that makes coordinating these projects easier and more scalable for institutions than ever before. If you and your school are in the process of evaluating moving coursework online or scaling your experiential learning programs, we’re here to help.
Don’t just go virtual, go experiential, too!
Jordan Levy, Founder & Executive Director at CapSource, is a Forbes 30 Under 30 and serial education technology entrepreneur. He has started two EdTech companies that help higher-ed programs bridge the skills gap for their students through experiential learning. His method is to integrate real companies into the education process through hands-on collaborations that expose learners to new circumstances with real stakeholders, challenges, and outcomes. Outside of work, Jordan is passionate about cooking, photography, networking, mixology, travel, sailing, tennis, public speaking, and coaching/connecting fellow entrepreneurs.