Suggestion 1: Encourage students to participate in campus intellectual life (even if they’re not on campus).

Campus intellectual life provides students with an opportunity to learn about recent research and theory in a setting outside the classroom, often outside the fields they study.  In fact, one of the best ways to encourage inter-disciplinary learning is to encourage students to attend lectures and symposia hosted by other departments.

Lectures are brief events, usually 1 to 2 hours long, given by a single speaker.  Most lectures include time for the audience to ask questions.  Lectures are typically free to students.

In contrast, symposia are usually longer events, usually one-half day to several days, and explore a single theme from a variety of perspectives.  That’s why they usually include presentations by speakers, panel discussions, and other types of formats.  Most symposia require pre-registration.  Some symposia have a registration fee (though most that do have a lower fee for students); others do not.

When considering recommending lectures and symposia to students, consider these suggestions:

  • At the beginning of the term, scour the schedules of guest speakers on campus to offer recommendations to students.  In some cases, students are too new to the field and might not know what to choose.

In other cases, departments formally announce lectures close to the actual events and students might not have enough time to learn about it.  But campuses often prepare longer-term calendars and a knowledgeable instructor can often identify events of possible interest well in advance, and publicize them to students.

  • For master’s and doctoral students, suggest that they attend at least 1 thesis or dissertation presentation per year, as well as 1 proposal defense per year.  This provides students with exposure to a situation they will face later, and should help familiarize them with it and, ideally, help them prepare for it.
  • For all students, suggest that they attend at least 1 lecture by a guest speaker per year.  If the topics offered within the department lack appeal, suggest students consider looking elsewhere:
    • Communications (especially events exploring the effectiveness of communication strategies and practices, and communications technology)
    • Computer science (especially events exploring the usability of information and the impact of enterprise-wide technology on processes within individual groups—like training and development groups)
    • English (especially events on effective writing strategies, a skill that’s essential to effective instructional design)
    • Management (which has an active line of research in Training and Human Resources, as well as explorations of business models, management concerns, and similar topics)
    • Marketing (especially events on the appeal of technology-based products like e- and m-learning and the use of edu-marketing to promote products)
    • Psychology (especially industrial and organizational psychology, which explores a number of topics of interest in human performance improvement)

(For students at the master’s and doctoral levels, suggest that they attend more than one, if possible.)

Bonus!  Many universities are increasingly offering co-curricular programs: learning programs that are central to student development but not offered for credit.  These courses often focus on skills needed in the workplace, like giving effective presentations, writing effectively, preparing a resume, interviewing for jobs, and networking.  Some universities have formal curricula of such courses, other universities offer these courses informally.

Learn what’s offered at your university and make your students aware of the offerings, so they can take advantage of them.

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