Dr. William Kelly, Director of External Affairs for ASEE, visited Purdue today and asked for thoughts on the ABET accreditation criteria. Here are my notes and questions to him after a couple hours of conversation.
How can we get the criteria to encourage creative maxima, not just specify bare minima? Art schools seem to do this well; everyone's trying to be as creative as possible. If we run with this analogy and think of a studio classroom with individual students, how do we make a good studio classroom for engineering education where the "individual students" are individual engineering programs/institutions?
Engineers are often habituated into viewing everything as an engineering project; if we can read a document as a contractual minimum specification and treat it as a checklist, we will -- how do we make documents that can't be read as contractual minimum specifications? (Sometimes it takes a huge kick in the rear to shake us out of habit.)
Beware magic wands. Social media, open-ended projects, flipped classrooms, MOOCs, etc can all propagate the same old paradigms and not lead to deep learning if they don't matter -- they're tools and potential means, not ends that guarantee success.
There are several ways to create change. One is to mandate what you want to happen. The other is to make it the easiest way to get things done.
Innovation implies the taking of risks, and that implies occasional failure. What are you doing to allow and reward failure and the public sharing and promotion of failure as a learning experience to celebrate?
Making room for new things sometimes involves dropping the old. What old things are programs dropping in order to try new ones, and how can programs be not-penalized (but even rewarded) for killing off "sacred cows"?