Innovation in learning
“People learn best when they do, rather than when they listen. This is the premise behind the hands-on, applied education SAIT strives to deliver every day,” says Brad Donaldson, SAIT VP Academic.
“We have to continually provide and seek ways whereby the learning experience can be maximized for the learners who come here,” says Donaldson. “The working world and industry are changing every day and because we are an institute of technology, the expectation is that we deliver the most current and relevant education possible for our students.”
Under these pressures, SAIT is continuously looking for new ways to bring innovation into the classroom. IDEA rooms, the flipped classroom, eBooks at the library, drilling simulators, crane simulators and even the possibility of learning from afar through blended learning opportunities are just a few examples of how SAIT has brought current technologies and ideas into the learning process.
Instructors like Steve Janz in SAIT’s School of Business have been using the flipped classroom concept to teach accounting students. In this method, students are given the opportunity to teach and learn from each other while the instructor takes on more of an observation role in the classroom.
“We tend to think of teaching as a knowledge dump, but that’s not what students need,” says Janz. “In the flipped classroom, the instructor’s role transforms and the relationship with students becomes a partnership.”
The labs of the future
These learning tools, along with state-of-the-art classrooms and technologically advanced labs are just part of what makes SAIT a leader in applied education.
“The power engineering lab in the Cenovus Energy Centre, for example, has been validated by many external visitors as the most current, well-equipped learning centre for power engineering they’ve ever seen,” says Donaldson.
Ryan Guss, a recent graduate of SAIT’s Power Engineering Technology program, says this lab allowed him to put theory and knowledge into practice, making him more prepared to enter the workforce. “Power engineering is all about mastering the individual parts and seeing the bigger picture — you need to be able to see and understand the entire system.”
The role of partnerships
The challenge for SAIT is to maintain this level of currency in fields with rapidly changing technologies. This, says Donaldson, is where our partnerships with industry become very important.
“Industry connections and having partners who want to put their equipment into our labs is invaluable to helping us understand what is relevant and in keeping our education current.”