This is from 2012 | 3 minute read

A Unique Educational Model: Fly The Professors In

I'm teaching class this weekend at CEDIM, a school in Monterrey. CEDIM, like Savannah College of Art and Design, was founded in 1978. The program has undergraduate degrees in Animation, Architecture, Digital Arts, Fashion Design, Graphic Design, Marketing, and Product Design. It has a unique model for education: students fly in once a month to learn. That's not that dissimilar from other schools that offer e-MBA programs. The difference is that CEDIM brings in all of the professors, too. We fly in, teach class over the weekend, and fly out; this happens two times, with a month break in between. I'm intrigued by unique educational models, and this one has a few interesting benefits (and poses a few problems).

Because the professors come from all over the world, students are exposed to a variety of viewpoints, and to experts in various aspects of their studies. For example, I'm here with Patrick Jordan, former CEO of the Contemporary Trends Institute, David McGaw from Doblin, and Alex van Putten of Wharton. I'm not sure of another school that can offer such a strange assortment of people in one place. In this diversity of viewpoints comes a texture to a course of study. In the Business Innovation program that I'm teaching in, the course covers topics of Branding, Customer Relevance, Funding, Models, and Leadership; it's sort of a mashup of a traditional MBA and the more intellectual parts of a design program.

On the other hand, because I've never met these other professors before, I have no real understanding of what they are teaching, how what I'm teaching fits in (or doesn't), and how students will build upon what they've learned in my class, in later classes. This is probably quite similar to how most schools work that rely on adjunct faculty. Mitigating this issue would require a very exacting top-down vision—a director that has a strong view of what they want, and students that are willing to follow that vision even if they don't truly understand where it leads.

This type of program also raises questions about the role of partnership and collaboration in education. Students in the program work on individual capstone projects. I wonder how this would work if they were to collaborate? How would they communicate outside of class—would they be proactive enough to schedule conference calls, meetings, and video chats on a regular basis? Would it be treated like a client engagement? Or would it be strictly email and a project management tool, with little facetime and actual person to person creativity?

Ultimately, I appreciate the unique quality of the program, and when I asked the students what attracted them to CEDIM in the first place, almost all mentioned the unique relationship between the school and the faculty. It would appear that, for these students, a multiplicity of viewpoints about education are appreciated and worthwhile.

Originally posted on Sat, 12 May 2012

Want to read some more? Try The Ingredients of Innovation: Framing, Empathy, Play, Insights, Constraints and Synthesis.