Clarity of Purpose

What is the purpose of the Lean teaching pedagogy?

Fundamentally, it is to improve teaching so that students learn the material, retain the material, and apply the material in practice. It will also improve student engagement, and, importantly, the value of higher education for students and payers.

The innovative Lean teaching pedagogy is a practical solution to long-standing problems in higher education. It makes use of teaching technologies where appropriate, but it does not blindly accept technology (such as MOOCs) as the solution for improving the productivity of the overall system of higher education as measured by completion rate.

Some people view the productivity of higher education as “its ability to provide more students with credential that lead to sustained careers.” Job placement is controlled by employers, not by universities. Thus, a university’s ability to sustain a graduate’s career is very limited in countries where employment is at-will. Also, an organizations’ need to increase profits or achieve labor cost savings often trump the value of employee’s knowledge or abilities.

The use of technology – learning management systems, MOOCs, tools to track student progress, etc. – are assumed by many to automatically increase the value of higher education. The Lean teaching pedagogy takes a different view and says that an existing highly-developed technology must be better utilized: the brains of teachers who design and deliver courses. The technology, in this case, is THINKING, coupled with the belief that humans working together can do great things.

Technology enthusiasts assume that teachers have done all they can, and that there is little room for the development of human resources (teachers) and improved pedagogy. The Lean teaching pedagogy says there is infinite room for improvement in creating better educational products and delivering better educational services, with the Lean principles, “Continuous Improvement” and “Respect for People,” always in mind.

The Lean principle, “Respect for People,” is almost certainly not in the forefront of technology enthusiasts’ minds. Therefore, their work will surely lead to zero-sum (win-lose) outcomes. The Lean teaching pedagogy is a superior challenge because it requires outcomes to be non-zero-sum (win-win). It is a better way to improve higher education.

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