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Open Minds to the Education of the Future

“Though we often lose sight of this basic fact, the point of learning is not just to know things but to be a different person – more mature, more wise, more self-disciplined, more effective, and more productive in the broadest sense. Knowledge is an indicator of educational success, not the aim.”

Granted, and … Thoughts on education by Grant Wiggings

Monday, August 25, 2014, will remain an important and memorable milestone for all of us. On that morning we welcomed the pioneering class of the Purdue Polytechnic Institute: 36 very special students, all unique and remarkable in their own ways. We are getting to know them, appreciate them, and learn with them and from them every day. Read more about the Purdue Polytech’s first class in “By the Numbers.”

For the faculty and staff, this is a milestone in a journey that started more than a year ago in August 2013, with a paradoxical mix of unbounded enthusiasm and deep awareness of the significance and responsibility that it carries. Read more about our creative design journey in “When 15 Fellows Decided to Take a Different Road.”

The importance and potential impact of what we have embarked on was highlighted by the press conference held by Purdue President Mitch Daniels last week to announce the $500,000 award for the first competency-based degree. Read more about the award and the press conference.

There are several key characteristics to the education being prepared by Purdue Polytech. Our competency-based approach incorporates a core philosophical element captured by Grant Wiggins:1 “Let’s see what results if we think of action, not knowledge, as the essence of an education; let’s see what results from thinking of future ability, not knowledge of the past, as the core; let’s see what follows, therefore, from thinking of content knowledge as neither the aim of curriculum nor the key building blocks of it but as the offshoot of learning to do now and for the future.” For additional details about our approach to competency-based credentialing and its full motivation, see “Badges of Competence.”

The faculty in the Educational Research and Development (aka Incubator) group are designing and delivering a curriculum using a dual approach:

  • A full-fledged new transdisciplinary competency-based degree is being finalized and will shortly be brought forth for approval by the appropriate bodies.
  • In the interim, students are admitted in existing Technology and Exploratory Studies programs and receive their education through the Polytechnic Incubator. This first year is designed to fully meet the students’ home degree requirements while following the Polytechnic Incubator’s philosophy, values, and approach. This is designed so that these students can safely and seamlessly transition back to their home degree or to the new degree once it is officially approved.

The current offering for the pioneering cohort is going extremely well. The enthusiasm of the students and their recognition of the different atmosphere and culture are extremely rewarding to all of us. This is what we will continue to strive for: An education centered around the student’s needs and focused on supporting them (and us) in becoming “a different person – more mature, more wise, more self-disciplined, more effective, and more productive in the broadest sense”.


1Granted, and ... ~ Thoughts on education

  1. competency based education
  2. innovation in education
  3. risk taking
  4. transdisciplinary

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