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Published: 9/16/2013

UT project to stray from lecture coursework

Focus is more on interactive learning

BY NOLAN ROSENKRANS
BLADE STAFF WRITER

The University of Toledo will draw inspiration from Salman Khan for a new campus initiative.

University officials unveiled the project, called One World Schoolhouse, at a UT Board of Trustees meeting Monday. Mr. Khan, who founded the nonprofit Khan Academy, will also kick off a new UT lecture series today. His Web-based Khan Academy has been heralded as being at the forefront of a paradigm shift in education, with many of his ideas contained in his book One World Schoolhouse: Education Reimagined.

While Khan Academy won’t have any official involvement in the UT project, the academy allowed the university to use the name, with a tagline that says it was inspired by the academy. Scott Scarborough, UT’s provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, said the university is in talks with Khan Academy for a more formal arrangement.

Khan Academy grew out of free YouTube sessions on a variety of subjects Mr. Khan started as tutorials for family members and that spread across the Web. Mr. Khan is an advocate for a major de-emphasis on large lecture type courses, with more time spent on interactive learning experiences.

The university’s project will center on three initiatives: a simulation and educational game development laboratory, a learning innovations laboratory, and an international connections program.

Mr. Scarborough said an example of an educational game would be one based on entrepreneurship, where teams of students create mock businesses and compete against each other in the game. He said that the concept aligns with a youth culture raised with computer games, and works well with other Web-based university projects.

“It’s a form of experiential learning that can play out in the digital world,” he said.

The university plans to house the project on the second floor of Carlson Library.

The initiative will be funded with $3 million in unused money originally allocated for construction of the Immersive Interprofessional Simulation Center on the Health Science Campus. Originally planned as a partnership between UT and Promedica, the university allocated $36 million to the simulation center after Promedica backed out of the joint project.

The schoolhouse project will be led by Bill McCreary, a senior fellow at UT who Mr. Scarborough said had formed a company that developed an educational game prototype.

Mr. McCreary is a board member of the Ohio Third Frontier Commission, which controls a state economic development fund focused on high-tech industries. The commission has given millions in start-up funds to the university and affiliated groups, such as Rocket Ventures LLC.

Mr. Scarborough and UT President Dr. Lloyd Jacobs said they didn’t see a conflict of interest for Mr. McCreary, despite his involvement in an agency that grants state funds to the university.

“If there’s an issue, he’ll have to recuse himself,” Dr. Jacobs said. “I don’t see any conflict.”

Mr. Khan will speak at 7 p.m. today in UT’s Doermann Theater on the third floor of University Hall.

The board also approved a $5.35 million loan to the athletics department for renovations of the Larimer Team Building. The department is fund-raising for the project, but does not yet have enough committed donations to cover the entire project cost, so the university will provide bridge funding.

If fund-raising does not cover the entire project cost, the athletics department will commit its operating revenue to repay the university, according to a memorandum provided to the board.

The face-lift, according to previous articles by The Blade, will include upgrades to coaching offices and the weight room.

Contact Nolan Rosenkrans at: nrosenkrans@theblade.com or 419-724-6086, or on Twitter @NolanRosenkrans.



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