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GET Curriculum Workshop explored best practices for experiential learning

June 22, 2011

Kelly Homan Rodoski
(315) 443-3784

In 2008, Syracuse University and JPMorgan Chase & Co., through a unique university-industry collaboration, piloted the Global Enterprise Technology (GET) program. As information technology curricula must adapt to rapid changes in the workplace and in an ever-expanding global marketplace, this interdisciplinary curriculum was built on a foundation of practice-based learning theory and designed around the themes of relevance, integration of theory and practice and academic-industry partnerships.

The GET curricula are now expanding beyond the Syracuse University campus. On May 25, a GET Curriculum Workshop, exploring the best practices for experiential learning, was held at the Sheraton Syracuse University Hotel and Conference Center. More than 69 faculty and career services staff members from 28 universities, and eight industry professionals from four organizations, attended.

The workshop brought together these academic and industry leaders to explore the gap in providing the foundational knowledge, skill and insight needed to work effectively in large, technology-driven global organizations; explore new, transformational models of industry-academic partnership; and to develop and broaden a GET community of employers and educators.

The workshop opened with a presentation of the current state of the GET program and the foundation of research in experiential learning that informs the curriculum and program design.

A panel of industry representatives from Ernst & Young, JPMorgan Chase, IMB and Nationwide Insurance discussed the role of GET interns who worked for their organizations through the eight month GET Immersion Experience, a signature of the GET Program. Panelists said they were not only glad to contribute to the training of young professionals, but also that their organizations learned better ways of working by hosting GET interns.

Workshop participants met students who had participated in the GET Immersion Experience and asked questions regarding the challenges and opportunities they faced, reinforcing the theme that experiential, work-based learning is a critical part of educating students in the large-scale, highly complex business challenges faced by global organizations.

Keynote speaker Christopher Kayes, professor of management at George Washington University, talked about learning-based leadership. Kayes engaged participants in reflection on their most meaningful learning experiences and presented research findings on the differentiating qualities of the most successful managers. Kayes’ message focused on the value of ambiguity and diversity in the learning experience, and he highlighted how programs like GET capitalize on the way students learn in order to provide rich development opportunities that cannot be replicated in the classroom.

Five breakout sessions were held during the workshop, addressing various aspects of implementing and improving the GET Program. Topics discussed included:

  • choosing the best majors and best roles for technology work-based learning opportunities;
  • experiential learning—leveraging the work context;
  • attracting students to the immersion experience;
  • making a multiple university—multiple internship model work; and
  • integrating two-year transfer students into work-based learning initiatives.

The breakout sessions at the conference successfully identified new ways to expand and strengthen the GET program to allow more students access to a curriculum that provides a major advantage in competing for and being successful in global technology-driven organizations.

Themes from the breakout sessions included finding ways to match students of diverse educational backgrounds to roles in the GET program; best practices for communicating the value of the program to students, parents, faculty and administrators; leveraging experiential learning to maximize a student’s learning outcomes; building robust relationships with industry partners; and the steps a university should take to implement the program at their campus.

Suggestions for new directions for leveraging work-based learning included providing alternative, on-campus work-based opportunities; industry/academic collaboration on assessment instrumentation; and creating multidisciplinary cohorts of three to four students for each immersion experience placement.

As a result of the workshop, several universities have begun the process of becoming GET Program affiliates and will join SU and others in giving their students the opportunity to take GET Curriculum courses and participate in the immersion experience.

To learn more about the GET opportunity, visit to begin the affiliate agreement process .

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