Education lacks reality. This is not a profound insight – for more than a century the phrase “ivory tower” has denoted a place or people with no real grasp on reality. And while the original “ivory towers” had nothing to do with universities, our institutions of higher learning quickly became the biggest and best examples of such fool’s paradises.
The “what to do about that fact” is a harder nut to crack. In my face-to-face courses, I have often encouraged my students (undergrads and grads) to go find their own “clients” and help solve real problems. Students are universally surprised by the messiness of real life. Throughout their school lives, problems have been broken down and spoonfed. It is a shock to find that not even the most complicated “story problem” mimics the richness and the complications of life-after-school.
You might think that an online Interactive Learning eXperience might be much less real than a real-life problem. But an I-L-X can put students in a virtual reality that is more grounded in reality than 99% of the courses they have attended. In OneDay, our first I-L-X, we use real (but disguised) data from a major corporation; students practice the actual process of developing and communicating a business strategy.
image: flickr/Svein Halvor Halvorsen