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Lecture-free college model blazes path for next generation learning

February 19, 2013


ServicesCenter_editMesa, Ariz. ~ Active learning, student engagement and interactive learning environments have become popular buzz words in academia, which is striving to change the traditional lecture-based classroom approach in higher education and boost student involvement, understanding and even enrollment.

But an emerging trend on which colleges are reporting solid success rates is lecture-free classes used by universities like Benedictine University at Mesa, based upon an innovative “next generation learning” approach.

“This approach is being designed to promote skilled communication as well as learning that is deeper, collaborative, self-managed, cross-disciplinary and technology-enhanced,” said Mick Carroll, Ph.D., dean of Benedictine University at Mesa. “This is an interesting shift that is shaking the traditional approach to teaching and lecturing. At its core, this methodology uses highly interactive technology that allows for remote learning 24 hours per day, seven days per week. This exciting and innovative approach to teaching and learning is becoming an expectation for today’s students, and Benedictine University at Mesa is embracing it.”

Lecture-free classes are a response to growing criticism of the traditional, often passive lecture-based college classes which some educators say are a turn-off to students, leading to aggravation and poor grades.

Experts say that traditional lecture-based teaching poorly prepares students for the workplace. Better prepared students are created through hands-on, interactive and team-based learning which produces the type of critical thinking skills that can be more readily transferred from the classroom to a student’s career.

This shifting paradigm in higher education teaching benefits students by increasing academic engagement, fostering stronger relationships with fellow students and faculty, and improving learning and success. For colleges, it can drive better retention and lead to stronger alumni networks as students become more connected to their alma maters and classmates after graduation.

The use of technology is a major component to the success of this next generation learning style, creating what some are calling the “flipped classroom,” where lectures and the traditional shape of classroom space is changed to reflect small-group discussions focused on interactive problem-solving. Lecture materials are often made available online and use shared digital space for remote collaboration and sharing that is made available 24 hours per day, seven days per week. Additional innovations include emerging and enhanced one-click digital tools for easy connectivity and communication with classmates, professors, professional networks and social media.

The classes offered at Benedictine University at Mesa starting in September 2013 will be lecture-free – which is different than what most students have previously experienced. Faculty will champion a curriculum that is problem/issues-based and will focus on application, decision-making and problem-solving. Professors will be using innovative techniques in the classroom to challenge students to actively learn, utilize technology and apply acquired knowledge.

All classes will follow a learning lab approach. Like a science laboratory class, students will engage, experiment, discover, apply and evaluate. Every class will have a problem, issue or project to solve and the semester will be spent learning not only solutions, but will also explore what the most effective processes are to discover solutions.

Between flipped and lecture-free classes loaded with technological enhancements, today’s students have new options for identifying learning styles they can build upon to successfully earn their degrees and have better skills to compete in the global marketplace immediately upon graduation. This is something Benedictine University at Mesa feels is essential for teaching the next generation of college students.

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Benedictine University is an independent Roman Catholic institution located in Lisle, Illinois just 25 miles west of Chicago. Founded in 1887, Benedictine provides 56 undergraduate majors, 16 graduate and four doctorate programs. The Chronicle of Higher Education recently ranked Benedictine University as the seventh fastest-growing campus among private nonprofit master’s universities, and Forbes magazine named Benedictine among the top 20 percent of America’s colleges for 2011. Benedictine University’s Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) program is listed by Crain’s Chicago Business as the fourth largest in the Chicago area in 2011.

Marketing and Communications
BENEDICTINE UNIVERSITY
Kathleen Costanza, Office Assistant
Email: kcostanza@ben.edu
Phone: (630) 829-6090
Fax: (630) 829-6091
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