Framework for Non-Invasive Learning Experience Management in Third Millennium Higher Education Ecosystems

Framework for Non-Invasive Learning Experience Management in Third Millennium Higher Education Ecosystems

Farid Mokhtar Noriega (Camilo Jose Cela University, Spain)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0039-1.ch010


Society is demanding from higher education institutions a new generation of proficient learning workers. This claim requires a paradigm shift: every aspect of our life is changing rapidly; higher education should also develop its own transformation. Introducing progressive and radical innovations requires strategic planning, Design Thinking methodology is the best candidate for this process as it offers a holistic approach and problem solving strategies. Communities are key players. Their involvement and active participation are important in this long term transformation; they should start learning and figuring out how to build a new higher education ecosystem. A Design Thinking planning tool is proposed for building a student-led participatory research-based learning experience. It is also conceived as a communication platform and community organizer to be used by students, teachers, student advisers, and administrators. It is a participatory system in which Design Thinking is a tool for all the community, not a domain-specific methodology used by elite professionals.
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Higher education teachers and planners need to drive a Deep Change. We are heading to the perfect storm. The economy is changing; the technological ecosystem is suffering a deep transformation. Our production system is subject to a deep transformation; we are heading to a second industrial revolution that may change actual business models based on mass production. A new scientific revolution is rising, many discoveries made in the last two decades, with great potential will require years of research. Neuroscientists are debunking many established dogmas about how the brain works, the nature of learning, and how individuals build knowledge and interact emotionally with the world (Carey, 2015).

The world is progressively heading to a deep transformation; society and businesses require a new generation of workers and scientists to accomplish future goals in a reasonable time interval. A new R&D ecosystem is rising with the advent of big data, cloud computing, and the internet of things. Those new components will change radically how people collaborate and develop complex research. The human genome project is the proof that a well-structured organization of activities and collaboration protocols could lead to a significant leap forward that exceeds all expectations. The work was finished in less than half of the expected time (Tapscott & Williams, 2006). The complexity of the scientific challenges is requiring a new way of thinking and peer collaboration. Challenges are complex; they will require heterogeneous teams of people from different cultural and technical origins, and divergent and creative thinking. Our physical, cultural, emotional and biological ecosystems are too complex for individual solutions, we need to think globally.

All decision makers and staff want their universities to occupy a privileged position in the world ranking. Huge investments are undertaken and modern facilities are built. The majority of people don’t understand that excellence in higher education is not the outcome of excellent facilities or heavy economic support. The best kept secret of top ranking universities and countries is their ability to learn. Technology is not their advantage but it is the smart use of resources which can accelerate learning and enhance the learners’ capabilities. The ability to learn and develop creative knowledge is not an individual achievement, it is a collective one. Peer and collective learning are the main drivers of great learning ecosystems.

At our educational institution we have felt the need to confront this reality in a practical and experimental way. Reviewing the literature in the context of the challenges for higher education of new discoveries, a rapidly changing economy and the information society leads us to focus more particularly on Design Thinking as a key strategy. With the desire to harness this approach to solving problems with due regard for its affordances and pitfalls, we compose a framework proposal which we establish recursively in the light of our students-learners whose frank input provides a kind of validation of our adaptable reference model. We conclude by reflecting on the learners’ remarks and questions.

We need a framework that allows us to develop a learning discipline and problem solving capacity at all levels. Technology will help and ensure its quality, but there are cultural and emotional factors to consider in learning culture beside scientific and technical resources or Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences tests (Gardner, 2003). Patience, tolerance, comprehension, and openness are also required. Creative places and spaces have hidden dimensions difficult to appreciate with conventional research methods. Not all researchers are satisfied with the Digital Natives generation and beyond. Some authors argue they are not acquiring any skills nor properly using social media (Bauerlein, 2011). A second group is trying to understand how social media has changed young people (Gardner & Davis, 2013). A third group believes in their potential to become a skilled and proficient generation (Wagner & Compton, 2012).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Big Six Experiences: six elements of emotional support identified by the Gallup research institute, related with experiential learning in college, correlated with long-term career and life success.

Gartner Hype Cycle: Gartner Hype Cycle methodology explains how a technology or application will evolve over time, providing a sound source of insight to manage its deployment within the context of a specific business goal.

Prosociality: or “voluntary behavior intended to benefit another,” is a social behavior that “benefits other people or society as a whole,” “such as helping, sharing, donating, co-operating, and volunteering.”

Design Thinking: design-specific cognitive activities that designers apply during the process of designing; it became a recognized innovation and solution development strategy for any kind of business or discipline.

Learning Environment: refers to the diverse physical locations, contexts, and cultures in which students learn. Since students may learn in a wide variety of settings, such as outside-of-school locations and outdoor environments, the term is often used as a more accurate or preferred alternative to classroom, which has more limited and traditional connotations.

Intrinsic Rewards: An outcome that gives an individual personal satisfaction such as that derived from a job well done.

Participation Inequality: In most online communities, 90% of users are lurkers who never contribute, 9% of users contribute a little, and 1% of users account for almost all the action.

Participatory Action Research: (PAR) is an approach to research in communities that emphasizes participation and action. It seeks to understand the world by trying to change it, collaboratively and following reflection. PAR emphasizes collective inquiry and experimentation grounded in experience and social history.

Awesome Experience: A feeling of respect or reverence mixed with dread and wonder, often inspired by something majestic or powerful, a space or a natural place.

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