Rethinking higher education
Our new and intensive programs require a new educational concept.
Or as we at CODE would say: This is how higher education always should be.
With CODE, our founders wanted to create a completely new educational concept. They wanted to move away from teacher-centered classrooms, from exams that demand rote knowledge that will be immediately forgotten, and from grades that only reflect a small part of your actual knowledge spectrum. Instead, they have developed a new learning concept: Curiosity-Driven Education (which is also evident in our name “C<>DE”).
We decided that in order to learn how to be a productive member of an international and interdisciplinary team, your learning environment should provide you with lots of opportunities to work in teams. As for the development of problem-solving skills, you would be presented with real-life problems to solve over and over again. Finally, to help you develop (or better rediscover) your eagerness to learn, we created a learning environment where students’ main driver for learning would be their own curiosity.
The knowledge transfer always takes place in the context of interdisciplinary projects, which are among other things, developed with our partners and are intended to ensure a practical learning experience. Our professors do not wish to solely impart their knowledge to you, but rather try to support and strengthen you on your individual learning path.
What does that actually mean? Our president Manuel gave a TED Talk about the need to transform education and explains the learning concept behind CODE. Check it out:
Learning at CODE starts with the orientation semester, where all first-semester students get introduced to CODE’s learning concept, the three study programs, and our Science, Technology & Society Program. Below you find an overview about the basic learning principles at CODE.
CODE want students to follow their own interests and drive. CODE support and guide them in it. This makes the teacher role more reactive and centered around the question how to best support and enhance a student’s learning experience.
CODE doesn’t start with theory and apply it later. From day one students get challenged with practical problems that spark curiosity and ambition – and then look for the theory that they need to solve them.
This is what makes learning both practice-oriented and curiosity-driven. Projects emphasize self-determination and self-organisation not just individually, but also on group level. Projects also get students in touch with reality from day one.
Learning is not measured in grades or in attendance, but in competence levels. CODE monitors and assesses what students are actually capable of in terms of skills and competences acquired, not where they learn or how much time they spent learning.
CODE use existing first-class (online) learning resources for standard teaching content. This frees teaching time and resources for interactive teaching, intense mentoring on an individual and group level, and workshops and lectures focussed on students’ actual needs and demands.
CODE thinks there is a high overlap between the three study programs and therefore encourages students to study in a way that covers more than the small core of their fields and to get to know the other disciplines’ perspectives.
Personal development is an essential part of CODE’s educational approach. The mandatory Science, Technology and Society Program empowers students to develop scientific thinking and critical judgement skills, while a series of workshops on interpersonal skills supports our students’ teamwork, leadership and communication skills.
If we do not change the way we teach, 30 years from now we’re going to be in big trouble.Jack Ma
Problem-based learning was initially developed and implemented in the 1960s. The inventors believed that knowing the information is just the first step of learning – real competence comes from the ability to apply knowledge and to continue learning.
Problem-based learning has many proven advantages, such as acquiring long-term knowledge, gaining confidence in one’s abilities, as well as a better understanding of the learning materials because the students are required to both gain knowledge and apply it.
Project-based learning is very similar to problem-based learning. However, it allows for more freedom and flexibility. While problem-based learning has more controlled conditions because the students face open-ended problems that are based on predefined scenarios, project-based learning is broader and can involve multiple, not that well-defined problems. It requires teamwork, communication, and self-reflection.
This concept assumes that most students can learn anything, given sufficient time and resources. This learning philosophy criticizes the current educational system where teachers neglect the potential of those students who need extra support. Instead of blaming the student, mastery learning looks at inadequate learning resources and insufficient time dedicated to mastering a topic.
At CODE, every student can discover their individual approach to successful learning. By supporting their diverse needs, CODE hopes to motivate them to become lifelong learners who are not afraid of the unknown and are open to continuous improvement.
Self-directed learning is a concept where the students are responsible for acquiring their knowledge and doing their research. Although there is guidance from mentors and support from peers and professors, the students themselves decide what they want to focus on based on their interests and experience. This has a lot to do with what is known as adult learning theory. This theory suggests that adult learners learn more and better when they are the initiators of the learning and when they learn what they are passionate about.
Additionally, it emphasizes the importance of learning things that can be applied to real-life problems which again, has a close connection to problem-based learning. But self-directed learning is much more than just independent learning. It is a way to practice your discipline and determination to achieve your goals.
At CODE, we want students to make the most of their education and to become lifelong learners. That’s why we allow every student to be the designer of their individual learning journey. This is by no means an easy task. In fact, it makes things more complicated when it comes to creating schedules, but when taken into account all the benefits that students have from this approach, it is all worth it.
Flipped classroom is a concept that we are very fond of at CODE. Students learn on their own using curated learning resources and prepare questions that they address with the help of professors and their classmates. The idea behind it is that instead of passively learning through lectures, the students efficiently spend their valuable time with the professors, dealing with matters with which they actually need assistance.
Peer to peer learning is another approach that is encouraged at CODE. The more advanced students help the beginners. This approach is not only useful for both the tutoring student and the student that needs help but also for creating a supportive community where everyone feels comfortable to learn and grow.