receptive.14 An illustration of just-in-time teaching would be an interaction between online study assignments and an active learner classroom. For example, students could respond electronically to web-based coursework due shortly before class, allowing the instructor to consider student performance “just-in-time,” and adjust the classroom lesson to suit the students’ needs.15

Some workshop participants expressed the hope that implementing just-in-time learning and teaching could strengthen efforts to address better the informational needs of students with varying skill sets. An example was offered from Olin College where students have the option to create their own engineering program, allowing undergraduates to pursue individual interests using differing timetables. This program is referred to as the E:Self, and its flexibility allows for the interdisciplinary integration of other curricula into traditional engineering paradigms. Self-directed learning, both in terms of time course and curriculum, is a large component of programs such as E:Self that are designed with the aim of fostering a student’s sense of engagement and control.


A concern echoed by many of the workshop participants was that the current classroom paradigm, in which nearly all teaching efforts consist of the instructor explaining information from a textbook, is archaic and must be changed. It was noted that the modern textbook has evolved very little from its origins in 1871 when Christopher Columbus Langdell, a law professor at Harvard, decided that compiling thick, imposing casebooks, with hundreds of appeals court rulings, should be the foundation of legal teaching.16 Flowers made a similar point in his keynote address.

Many workshop attendees commented that the keynote and panel speakers had proposed a variety of innovative examples of the use of modern learning technologies including Vest’s citation of the David Baker video game Foldit and Flower’s “new media” model.

Discussions in the breakout section on “using engineering education research findings to inform curricular innovation” included general support for the view that in order for education and technical research findings to more effectively inform curricular innovation, engineering educators should create virtual communities that establish collaborative links17 among and between education researchers, classroom innovators, and traditional engineering faculty. This could be accomplished, for example, through wikis (i.e., websites that can be collaboratively edited by multiple users) which contain information regarding the successes and failures of past and current educational techniques, or a globally accessible database of curricular innovations and promising educational models.


Sanders, Ted "U.S. Seeks a Nation of Learners For New Century," Chicago Tribune, December 17, 1996.


From Just in Time Teaching at [Accessed May 6, 2009].


Monaghan, Peter. “Due processors: Educators Seek a Digital Upgrade for Teaching Law.” Chronicle of Higher Education, vol. 55, no. 8, (2008) page 10.


Wegner, Etienne et al., “Cultivating Communities of Practice” Harvard Business School Press, 2002.

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