In education circles, the movie “Most Likely to Succeed, by Greg Whitely, is making the rounds through private, local viewings (watch trailer here). Unfortunately, you can’t watch this movie on-line – but do watch the trailer. You’ll need to find a local viewing opportunity at a college or high school near you. I suppose the point of this distribution method is to foster discussion and deeper dissemination. The movie powerfully makes the case that old-style education was meant to get young people ready for the workplace. Schools teach discipline and behaviors favoring mass production. In our new information age, we need to develop innovation, learning, discovery. Our education system has not caught up, and needs to change. This movie follows High Tech High in San Diego, where students follow a completely new model of education. It goes beyond my short blog-post to go into detail – but this new model of teaching is inspiring, creative, and effective. One key takeaway: no more final exams, where students are asked to regurgitate the knowledge they have gathered – that’s old-school. New method: “Exhibition”: presenting a team project, covering multiple disciplines (math, literature, art – a mix) – to an audience that includes outside observers. I love this concept, and I’m inspired to incorporate it into my on-line Health Informatics and Population Health Analytics course at the Jefferson College of Population Health. Key points:
  • Instead of the traditional “Final Paper”, we’re doing a final project presentation – in the movie, that’s called the “Exhibition”. Each student team presents a Population Health Analytics project, via GoToMeeting.
  • Rather than individual projects and papers, students work in pairs or teams of 3, and since most students are in different locations in the country (and abroad), this brings on-line collaboration into the learning experience.
  • I invited six outside observers – all experts in the field of Health Informatics, Population Health, and Health Economics. I am convinced that students are more motivated, challenged and inspired if the audience includes outside observers.
We just did our first “exhibition”, and it worked very well. Presentations were fast-paced and to the point. Teams divided up the talking points smoothly as TV news anchors. The visualizations were professional (see example: US Smoking Rates – by Jill Richards and Joseph Fanelle). Each team’s recommendations and conclusions were actionable. And finally, this format allowed for questions and answers with students and observers – which for a largely on-line curriculum is a great way to end the course. Excellent and encouraging feedback from students and observers – and I’m happy that “Most Likely to Succeed” prompted me to re-think the “Final Paper” concept and replace it with a “Final Team Exhibition”.

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