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Five Dimensions of Learning: KDBIN

By Wisconsin School of Business

March 19, 2013

Why should students brave the cold for an early-morning class when they can access the same lectures from their room, on their own schedule, and at their own pace? What future is there for on-campus degree programs in the connected digital world?

“The perfect storm of shifting funding models and new online technologies challenges us to address fundamental questions about how we deliver higher education,” Dean François Ortalo-Magné said. “The debate over the value of the traditional campus experience has pushed the Wisconsin School of Business to identify its established strengths and its priorities for the future.”

This inquiry led the school to develop a framework called KDBIN, an approach the school is designing and implementing to invent the student experience of tomorrow. The school is currently working to articulate ideal learning outcomes for every program, degree, and major along the five KDBIN dimensions: Knowing, Doing, Being, Inspiring, and Networking. These five dimensions give faculty and staff a common language for the conversation about what it means to be a Business Badger.

This framework was developed from listening to alumni reflect on what elements of their education set them up for success. They mentioned technical competence and confidence. They spoke of teamwork and presentation skills, of the ability to perform under stressful conditions and deal with ambiguity, of exposure to foreign environments.

They remembered inspiring teachers and experiences that pushed them beyond their comfort zones and sealed lifelong friendships. They enthusiastically recalled the sense of community formed during shared experiences in the school, at the Memorial Union, in Camp Randall, on State Street, and around the world.

Most institutions of higher education have already moved beyond focusing exclusively on the “K” of delivering knowledge. The “D” and the “B” reflect trends that revised the traditional model but have now spread widely. Like many of its peers, the Wisconsin School of Business challenges students to learn by doing and applying what they know, while devoting attention to ethics and self-awareness as part of the curriculum. The Wisconsin School of Business’ focus on the “I” and the “N” is what sets the school apart.

This comprehensive approach to curriculum design goes to the very foundation of learning, challenging the current model of delivery. An educational experience defined this broadly will require partnerships on campus and beyond. The school will not be able to rely on the experiences delivered in Grainger Hall alone, but will build many important partnerships with schools and colleges on campus, the Wisconsin Memorial Union, other universities, and international exchange programs to collectively deliver important outcomes.

Furthermore, the school will make reasoned decisions to use new technology when it clearly enriches the student experience. Bucking the trend of replacing classroom lectures with online videos one at a time and without clear purpose, the school’s approach will be rooted in pedagogy. To make the best use of the latest developments in technology and cutting-edge education research, the school is enlisting expert partners from the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Division of Information Technology and School of Education; the latter is a global leader in its field.

“Education is about more than pushing knowledge into young brains,” Ortalo-Magné said. “Schools that move from teaching their students a sequence of classes to helping them achieve a full portfolio of KDBIN learning outcomes will define the future of higher education. KDBIN is our pathway to leadership.”