Hands-On Learning at Fisher

One of the more common themes of recent podcasts and books I have listened to/read is how the classroom format of most educational programs favor certain types of learning, and thus favor some students over others. In a nutshell, lecture-based education is largely based on verbal and logical/mathematical learning styles, and rarely physical/kinesthetic or social formats. All styles have their own place, but one thing I did not expect and have been ecstatic to experience here at OSU is the extent to which hands-on learning is woven into the curriculum. Lecture-based classes are still the norm, as they should be, but my classes this semester in particular have featured heavily interactive components as opposed to the traditional reading-lecture-exam format I expected prior to the program.

One such class is Professor Camp’s Technology, Commercialization, Entrepreneurship class. While a Fisher class, a good portion of the students are PhD or masters students in engineering, biomedical sciences, or other related fields. In the class, we have been split into groups and paired with technologies and patents developed here at Ohio State. We have spent the semester tasked with exploring, studying, and validating markets for these technologies.  The class typically opens with a lecture where we learn the next step in the framework for bringing new technologies to market, and the rest of class is spent in groups with our technology inventors putting together strategies and actually reaching out to potential customers.

Another heavily interactive class is Professor Lount’s Negotiations course. For those at Fisher, I highly recommend taking the full 14-week course. Former Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Vernon Law once said, “Experience is a hard teacher – she gives the test first, and the lesson after.” In this course, we spend about half of our class sessions in pairs or groups conducting simulated negotiations, all of which feature their own host of challenges and complexities. Only after the negotiations do we learn the underlying sources of conflict as well as the strategies to use going forward. While it may seem counter-intuitive, it has been an extremely effective way to experience and learn both these concepts and related strategies.

To students and professors alike, I would highly encourage more opportunities to complement lectures and concepts with simulations, projects, and other opportunities for hands-on learning.