The flash seminar

What Mr. Jefferson's university is doing is really interesting.  It's trying to pull students more intimately into the learning process--bringing them into the professor's home.  If social media and online learning distances students from the university, this serves to engage them beyond traditional means.  The institutions that take this approach may thrive even in an age of rampant online education.  This is from Inside Higher Ed.

The Rise of the 'Edupunk'
So where are the bright spots? A continual refrain from panelists was the idea that “cutting to invest” is the only path forward. College leaders argue that the imperative to grow programs now invariably means the shedding of others.

“You may have to take money out of some other cherished project, but you've got to keep doing new things because that's what universities are about,” said Teresa Sullivan, the newly minted president of the University of Virginia.

In a bow to the “Edupunks,” Sullivan explained that Virginia is incorporating student habits into its pedagogy. For example, the university is experimenting with “flash seminars.” Just as “flash mobs” summon young people to engage in some simultaneous bizarre act in a specified place at a specified time, the “flash seminars” alert students to an edgy topic -- no examples of how edgy -- that will be discussed in a professor's living room. To raise the hype level, only the first 25 students who show up are allowed to participate in this non-credit-bearing activity.

“It's done for the sheer love of learning,” she said. “At least that's what the students think.”

In point of fact, Virginia is quite deliberately documenting what gets students fired up -- hoping to incorporate those subjects into the classroom.

As Sullivan described this melding of youth culture and old school academe, several audience members -- yes, Harvard, too -- were frantically jotting notes.

Edupunks are being heard. Whether that will translate into changes in higher ed remains to be seen.


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