Published in el Pais, 7 de Septiembre 2019.
Challenge-based learning (CBL) can be a good alternative to improve the almost individual learning experience for the university student. This experiential learning could take educational performance to higher levels and result in evidence such as greater effort, publications, patents and open the desired long-term relationships between the University-Company-Government.
Recently I have completed a subject at the university (Universidad Privada Boliviana, UPB) with this methodology. In my class there were people from business, finance, marketing and graphic design. There were second, fifth and eighth semester students. They were divided into groups by semesters and assigned a previously agreed project and designed teacher-company. Each group had to perform a part of the work according to their level of knowledge achieved in the university. Each group was multidisciplinary, only included semester-peers. They were told that in order to carry out the project, the key was to contribute each one from their training and experience, in addition with enthusiasm. Throughout the subject, the theory was advanced by putting a lot of effort in the progress of the work entrusted by the company under the guidance of the teacher. To achieve the required work, it was necessary: continuous feedback from the teacher, teacher-student enthusiasm, giving space for error and giving time for reflection. There are no definite answers because it is a real problem.
In summary, I can indicate that hard and soft skills were strengthened with this type of learning. Among the hard skills, quantitative and qualitative methods for research were strengthened, statistical analysis adapted to the context of the company, business scenarios based on finance, communication plans, business and brand design were created, strategies were proposed. Among the soft skills, creativity, collaboration and coordination in a multidisciplinary team were strengthened to provide a solution from different perspectives, the flexibility of thinking to accept the error and work on improvement, and above all the responsibility to achieve a good result for that the proposal works in the company and can be implemented. Other results that can be obtained from this type of education is the proposal for improvements in business regulations, publications, patents, etc. The CBL is an interesting way to redirect education to higher levels, being productive and collaborating with business-governments when learning by doing. What did the companies think? Happy to have the work they required and participate in the educational process that brings students closer to what companies require.