In February of 2019, the Empirical Educator Project announced its first public contribution. Duke and Carnegie Mellon Universities respectively released templates that are intended to simplify the IRB approval process for empirical educators who want to conduct publishable research.
I followed up on earlier California Community Colleges case study by talking about the business school literature in organizational learning. The Empirical Educator Project, and a project shared by Pearson at the 2018 summit, get mentions in the post, but more broadly, the implicit theme of developing a methodology of change of, by, and for academia is consistent with the philosophy of the project.
By late November 2018, we began to use the phrase “operational excellence at supporting student success” more frequently as a long term goal for higher education in general and the Empirical Educator Project in particular.
In a post on e-Literate I use the example of the Online Education Initiative at the 114-campus California Community College system to show how even such a large, decentralized system can begin with common purpose toward that goal if they think strategically.
In this e-Literate post written in November 2018, I started to articulate how the Empirical Educator Project could produce a methodology of change. The basic idea is that, as with other knowledge work such as software engineering or industrial design, educational institutions have put processes in place to ensure that academics provide quality education in a time-bounded way. But it’s the wrong kind of process. It hobbles the creativity of the knowledge workers while failing to tame the uncertainty it was meant to tame.
Software engineering invented agile methodologies and industrial design invented design thinking to address this problem. These approaches have some characteristics in common. I propose that empirical education could give rise to an analogous methodology for excellence in higher education.
Our first public EEP collaboration was between James Madison University, which has world-class institutional and academic psychometric programs, and Carnegie Mellon University, which has world-class learning engineering programs. One excels at measuring learning impact and the other at designing for learning impact. Also, the two universities happen to be driving distance away from each other.
The faculty began monthly exchanges, visiting each other’s campuses and learning from each other. Since this article was written, the collaboration has continued and matured. Look for an update soon.