Last fall I was chosen to take on quite an ambitious endeavour in the field of educational reform. With the University of Ottawa, Faculty of Arts and Faculty of Social Sciences the task at hand was to work closely with eight professors in redesigning eight academic courses. The courses were to take on a new direction while maintaining the integrity and core of their academic context.
The framework we developed was to move us past the traditional academic setting, where students are tested on the mere knowledge and application of knowledge that they learned through the means of a lecture series and the textbook. By introducing community partners with real-world problems, and challenging the students to use what they learned to help solve these challenges, students were able to step outside the box of traditional learning.
The final results came together through a phenomenal showcase of the students work.
It was a social innovation fair that put on display the work of students engaged in the redesigned course that integrated social innovation through project-based learning. A combined showcase of the Faculty of Arts and Faculty of Social Sciences engaged eight courses and over 550 students.
Through the pairing of courses with community partners that have real-world challenges to overcome, our students actively engaged in problem-solving of a social issue. Students showcased their innovative social solutions through poster boards, presentations, demos, online works and physical art displays to the University of Ottawa community.
The showcase was a festive celebration and competition amongst the students. Students were judged on the creativity of their solution, the quality of their pitches, and their overall work by our judges, who are social innovators themselves. There was food, prizes and a buzz of excitement as we celebrated the students’ projects and this new wave of courses through the Ventures Initiative.