Throughout the semester, I have found that my courses delve into very particular aspects of creating a new program and curriculum. The Organizational Decision Making Course has taught me a lot in the way we think and approach problems, which are the fundamentals of developing courses. On the complete other side of the spectrum, Economics of Education and Lifelong Learning teaches the necessary tools as to implementing a program into an existing system.
While developing CSE, we are putting a lot of efforts to ensuring that incoming students (from other countries) would be able to enroll in the course. In fact we will soon be starting to create the marketing and will focus on the English version to make sure the incoming students will be very aware and encouraged to take the course. We have been making efforts even in the core aspects of the course for the possibility of international students. It is even one of the reasons that the courses are taught in English. I was quite confused as to why we put so much effort and thought into the incoming students. It felt very weird to me to put so much emphasis on students not from Belgium.
At the same time, in my Economics of Education and Life Long Learning course, we started discussing international trade in educational services. There are advantages for countries both exporting and importing educational services, which includes exchange students. Currently, the “EU as a whole has a market share of more than 1/3” of incoming international students and in relative terms, “Belgium occupies a strong 6th position worldwide, with more than 8% foreign students” (Nicaise). Clearly incoming students are a priority in the EU and especially Belgium. In the course, we discussed many reasons as to why. Firstly, there is an economic advantage for the exporting country. When exporting education, you are bringing in funds and people into your country. Secondly, the EU is putting a lot of money and effort into the Erasmus Programme because international student mobility within the EU “may be crucial to develop Europe’s highly-skilled labor force in order to strengthen its position as a knowledge-based economy” (González). So, not only does bringing in students have an advantage for the individual university, but it is highly encouraged and financially supported from the government of the European Union.
So when developing a new program here, it is very important to make it work for incoming students and be something that might attract international students because it is a value of both the government of the EU, the government of the state and the university.
Another aspect of CSE that jumped out to me very quickly is that the students do their projects individually. I at first was very surprised since at Olin almost every project is team-based and focuses on teaching group-work. Immediately, I felt the need to insist that there be a project that is not individual. But, CSE enrolls many professionals who are coming back to school for the extra certificate, so often they don’t live near each other and have very busy schedules. In order to require them to work in teams, there has to be very concrete reasoning. I continued to encourage group work even though my only justification was my experiences. This week, all of that changed. I am in a course called Organization Decision Making and Change and for the course I have taken many questionnaires about my personality and decision making style and have read literature about how personalities affect decision making. When synthesizing this into an essay, I found that the way I make decisions individually is drastically different from the way I make decisions when in a group. Not only does it feel different to design individually versus a group, but I actually think differently. Thus, working with teams on projects is a completely differently learning experience from working individually.
Not only does working in a group give you the opportunity to practice interacting with coworkers and collegues, it also practices the part of you that makes decisions in a team. The only way to truly prepare our students for a workforce where working completely alone is rare (especially in Social Engineering), we must require them to learn group-decision making skills as well and assign team design projects.
It has been very interesting to see how these courses line up directly with the work that I am doing with CSE. I look forward to putting it all together in the end!
González, Carlos Rodríguez, Mesanza, Ricardo Bustillo, & Mariel, Petr (2010). The determinants of international student mobility flows: an empirical study on the Erasmus programme. Springer Science + Business Media.
Nicaise, I. (2010). Trade in education services at global and EU level: an economic perspective. 29th Flemish Scientific Economic Conference (WWEC).