May 24, 2013Why engaged learning?by Peter FeltenBy now it is cliché to point out the “disruptions” facing and the “revolutions” occurring in higher education today. Massive open online courses (MOOCs) are drawing hundreds of thousands of students, and nearly as many headlines, as a radical force for change. The financial model for many colleges and universities also is teetering on a cliff edge as mounting student debt and an institutional addiction to tuition increases erode what had seemed to be solid ground not so long ago. And then there’s the problem of student learning. As Academically Adrift revealed, and many suspected, not all of our students are learning nearly so much as we had promised or hoped. Some now claim that it’s time to toss out the course credit hour. Or, as Randy Bass argues, perhaps we have entered a post-course era, a time when the formal curriculum is no longer “the primary place where the most significant learning takes place” in an undergraduate’s education. And then there’s the drumbeat for gamification, transforming college by applying the lessons of successful game design. In the face of all of this, why should a new Center, or a faculty member, or an institution, focus on something as last century as engaged learning?