In light of the recent workforce changes from increasing technology and modernizing industries, Peter Hsieh, President of Northwestern Polytechnic University (NPU), spoke about how education is changing to meet a more technological workforce. In an interview with Campus Technology’s Kellee Terrell, Hsieh explains the value of open-source learning.
NPU is a private university founded in 1984 with five campus locations across California, including Fremont, San Jose, Pleasanton, Los Angeles, and Sacramento. Founded by Dr. Ben Chavis as an institution that works to meet the needs of those in the technology industry, NPU is well known for its focus on hands-on learning.
“We’re not here to provide traditional baccalaureate instruction only,” says Hsieh. “Our mission is to prepare students with skills that are highly marketable and essential in this new economy.”
The interview goes on to discuss how NPU uses open-source learning to re-create the university experience beyond the ivy walls. This includes course content available for free online, collaboration tools, and student portfolios on their ePlatform that are accessible anytime, anywhere.
Additionally, Hsieh explains how education has changed over time in response to changing workforce needs.
“Traditionally, you went to school and tried to learn everything. I believe that is not the right approach,” says Hsieh. “Going forward, we need people who are problem solvers and creators, and you cannot achieve this without some specific disciplines.”
“At NPU, we encourage students to be well-rounded and to learn broadly, but deep in their domain of interest,” says Hsieh. “It is the combination of both that will sustain them over time.”
Hsieh went on to say that open-source learning is not meant to replace face-to-face education but rather enhance the current educational experience.
“The traditional definition of a campus has changed,” says Hsieh. “A campus is no longer just bricks and mortar… It’s really about the socialization of students as well as faculty and staff.”
He then added that the best combination of face-to-face and online learning is a personalized one.
“The more technology is involved, the better it is for everyone,” says Hsieh. “It’s not as individualized as we would like, but this will change in the future. Like technology, our methods are rapidly evolving, and I believe the possibilities are endless.”
“For example, we are working on a virtual learning environment where the student will be able to log in from home and reach his or her professor,” says Hsieh. “In this case, I believe it’s about creating an educational paradigm that delivers course content when and how students need it.”
Commenting on how NPU views partnerships between technology providers for education, Hsieh explains that the relationship between NPU and ePlatform has been a very productive one.
“ePlatform is a great partner for us because of our shared mission to increase student learning outcomes through online education,” says Hsieh. “The more we can make collaboration tools available to students, faculty, and staff, the better students will do. It’s not about pushing them to use technology. It’s about providing students with options and seeing where they take it.”
“We appreciate the ePlatform team,” says Hsieh. “They [have] been great with their support and follow through when we needed help or had questions. The partnership has been very positive, and we look forward to continuing it in the future.”
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