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Humphrey School Partners With Universities in Hong Kong and Around U.S. to Develop and Share Innovative Learning Materials

June 6, 2013 10:23 AM

To best prepare students for roles in public service, the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota is forging global partnerships to create and use interactive, digital tools designed to provide students real-life examples of public policy and management challenges. The Hubert Project allows public affairs instructors to develop and share a wide range of materials—from short videos to media-enhanced eCases. It’s in part an answer to growing demands from today’s technically savvy students: instead of reading a printed articles and case studies, students can watch video interviews with key stakeholders, view photos, and browse relevant documents.

Public affairs issues often are complex, and the digital learning materials help express some of what it takes to move forward legislation, develop community solutions, or grow an organization. The digital format makes it easy to deliver content in a manner that resonates with students. Some eCase topics include the development of legislation to end child sex trafficking in Minnesota, a collaborative community effort to improve residents’ health, and the integrative leadership practices in a campaign to end homelessness.

“Students my age are used to consuming information in a new way,” says Hunter Gordon, a Humphrey School graduate who recently earned a Master of Public Policy degree. “In studying public affairs, we have to sift through a lot of information and try to figure out the most relevant pieces and how they fit together. Packaging several different types of information into one electronic collection makes it easier to do that.”

The Hubert Project includes three types of collections:

  • eCase—Collection of original assets developed by an instructor and packaged together for presentation; can include videos, reports or papers, presentations, photos
  • Curated case—Collection of existing materials, such as podcasts and academic journals, that an instructor gathers in one place to share with students
  • Video brief—Short video segment (three to five minutes in length) that provides an introduction to a policy area or management issue

A key component of the initiative involves sharing content with other public affairs educators around the world. With easy-to-use software, the Hubert Project allows faculty members or researchers to create materials, such as eCases or video briefs, and upload them to a vast online repository so that other instructors can download and use the materials. The Hubert Project’s e-Cases and videos include supplementary discussion guides, teaching notes, and suggested use. As an operating partner with the Humphrey School, the University of Hong Kong has committed to developing several eCases over the next three years that also will be translated into Chinese. The Humphrey School is negotiating similar partnerships with leading U.S. universities because the success to growing such a collection is through sharing open-access materials broadly.

“One of the strategic decisions that public affairs schools are making right now is whether to contract out for all for the elements of online course delivery,” says Humphrey School Associate Professor Jodi Sandfort. “The beauty of the Hubert Project is that it’s leveraging the content expertise of colleagues around the world and allowing them to create and share engaging online materials, and not have to outsource that capacity.”

Since the repository was launched in December 2012, the Hubert Project has grown to include more than 25 digital products created by contributors representing six institutions in addition to the Humphrey School. Nineteen additional products are under active development.

Contributed by Andrea Cournoyer, University of Minnesota.


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