On August 18 2020 a kickoff event was held and our keynotes participated in a online panel moderated by the Global Tertiary Education Expert, Jamil Salmi.

Theme of the seminar: PBL in a Pandemic World


Richard K. Miller

Reimagining General Education: Design Thinking and Intrinsic Motivation Perspectives

With the rapidly growing influence of AI and asynchronous learning resources, the role of general education is rapidly evolving. To an unprecedented degree, it now not only matters “what you know” but “what you can do” with what you know. Thus, experiential learning is of growing importance in all of education. It requires making sense of what you know, self-expression, and taking action. Learning only from a book (or other passive resources) is simply not enough. Ideally, a balanced general education today should enable all students to find things out (research), make sense of the world (reflection and integration), and envision what has never been while learning to do what it takes to make it happen (take initiative). Learning in this way may also address the most prominent problem in higher education today (identified by Howard Gardner at Harvard in his recent seven-year study): belonging, mental health and wellbeing.  A life-transformative education today should lay the foundation for flourishing throughout a lifetime. This talk will present some lessons learned at Olin College in the last 15+ years of experimentation. At Olin, all students take multiple semesters of Design Thinking, integrated with efforts to build intrinsic motivation, and complete more than 20 collaborative group design-build projects before graduation. They also work for two semesters with a corporate client who pays more than $50,000 for the privilege of setting goals for their design work. Much if not all of this is transferable to any academic discipline, not just Engineering.

Richard K. Miller was appointed President and first employee of Olin College of Engineering in 1999 where he served for 21 years until he stepped down in June 2020 and became Emeritus President and Professor of Mechanical Engineering.  He served as the Jerome C. Hunsaker Visiting Professor of Aerospace Systems at MIT during the 2020-2021 academic year.  Previously, he served as Dean of Engineering at the University of Iowa, Associate Dean of Engineering at USC in Los Angeles, and assistant professor of engineering at UCSB in Santa Barbara. With a background in applied mechanics and current interests in innovation in higher education, Miller is the author of numerous reviewed journal articles and other technical publications. He received the 2017 Brock International Prize in Education for his contributions to the reinvention of engineering education in the 21st century. Together with two Olin colleagues, he received the 2013 Bernard M. Gordon Prize from the U.S. National Academy of Engineering (NAE) for Innovation in Engineering and Technology Education. Recently elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, he is a member of both the NAE and the National Academy of Inventors. In 2011, he received the Marlowe Award for creative and distinguished administrative leadership from the American Society for Engineering Education. Miller has served as Chair of the U.S. National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine Board on Higher Education and Workforce (BHEW) and as Chair of the Engineering Advisory Committee of the U.S. National Science Foundation.  He has also served on advisory boards and committees for Harvard University, Stanford University, the NAE, NAS, and the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in addition to others. In addition, he has served as a consultant to the World Bank in the establishment of new universities in developing countries. A frequent speaker on engineering education, he received the 2002 Distinguished Engineering Alumnus Award from the University of California at Davis, where he earned his B.S. He earned his S.M. from MIT and Ph.D. from the California Institute of Technology, where he received the 2014 Caltech Distinguished Alumni Award.

Prof.dr. Diana Dolmans

The future of PBL: How to move from a one-size-fits-all copy-paste approach to customized PBL alternatives?

Although current instructional design models for complex learning differ in various ways, they all focus on real-life tasks as the main vehicle for driving student learning. These tasks are derived from professionally or societally relevant problems. In problem-based learning (PBL), but also in project-based learning and cognitive apprenticeship learning, the task is at the center of learning to encourage the integration of knowledge, skills, and attitudes and to enhance transfer of learning to new problems encountered in the workplace and in real life. PBL fits well with these current instructional design principles encouraging a deep approach to learning among students. Over the years, PBL has evolved within and across institutions, demonstrating that there is no true one-size-fits-all copy-paste approach to PBL. Triggered by these new insights, the current trend is to adapt PBL and develop alternative PBL approaches, to implement PBL variations, and to re-design and investigate these new PBL alternatives. As a result, we now regard PBL as a family of approaches with certain characteristics, in which tasks are at the center of learning. The challenge is to continuously adapt and redesign PBL to ensure that all elements within the learning environment are aligned with the intended outcomes. How else can we look at PBL practice and research? What are the alternatives? What are current insights on instructional design? These issues will be discussed during the lecture.

Diana HJM Dolmans is a full professor in the field of innovative learning arrangements and a staff member of the School of Health Professions Education (SHE) at Maastricht University. Her research focuses on key success factors of innovative curricula within higher education. She holds an MSc degree in Educational Sciences and a PhD degree in problem-based learning. She takes a special interest in understanding how to optimize the learning environment. Her topics of interest are problem-based learning, faculty development, and quality assurance. Her line of research within problem-based learning is internationally well acknowledged. She is the scientific director of the Interuniversity Centre for Educational Research (ICO), a research school in which 15 Dutch and Flemish universities collaborate in offering a training program to their PhD candidates in educational sciences. Finally, she is an editorial board member of several international journals, has published over 150 peer reviewed manuscripts in many refereed international journals, and she has supervised 17 PhD candidates through to completion.

Laura Czerniewicz

Hybrid models and unbundled provision 

The unbundling of teaching and learning provision has come to the fore due to the constellation of the pandemic with its concomitant shift online, the massification of higher education, and the tenets of neoliberalism which shape much of the sector. Unbundling is the process of disaggregating educational provision into its component parts likely for delivery by multiple stakeholders, often using digital approaches and which can result in rebundling.  This talk will consider: 

  • What unbundled provision looks like in higher education; 
  • Who the stakeholders are in the reconfigured teaching and learning ecosystem; 
  • Which forms of rebundling are emerging; 
  • What the implications are of the unbundled hybrid provision landscape for pedagogy, equity, and the mission of public universities. 

Laura Czerniewicz was the first director of the Centre for Innovation in Learning and Teaching (CILT), at the University of Cape Town (UCT, 2014 to 2020), having previously led UCT’s Centre for Educational Technology, OpenUCT Initiative and Multimedia Education Group. Her many roles in education over the years include academic, researcher, strategist, advocate, teacher, teacher-trainer and educational publisher. Threaded through all her work has been a focus on equity and digital inequality. These have permeated her research interests which focus on the changing nature of higher education in a post-digital society and new forms of teaching and learning provision.  She plays a key strategic and scholarly role in the areas of blended /online learning as well as in open education institutionally, nationally and internationally. 

Contact information: 

AUGUST 17th – 19th 2021

Hosted by Aalborg University
Organized in conjunction with IRSPLL 2021