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Jodi Sandfort, University of Minnesota

The Hubert Project: Where Interactive Teaching Meets Interactive Technology

December 2, 2014 10:00 AM

By Jodi Sandfort, University of Minnesota

From conversations with public affairs colleagues both nationally and internationally, I’ve found that we are largely missing the boat when it comes to applying the latest research on teaching and learning in what we do in our classrooms.  Interactive pedagogies, experiential learning, multi-media presentations are all things documented to improve adult learning outcomes. However, many of our teaching methods have not kept abreast.

The Hubert Project was sparked out of what I saw as an opportunity to lower the barriers to interactive teaching and applied learning across the field. Through a small faculty technology fellowship given by my University, I explored how we might integrate research on technology-enhanced learning with the case study pedagogy I learned as an assistant professor. I learned new models of digital licensing allowed for authorship rights to be retained while creating a broader audience for scholarship and that was creating new ‘open access’ materials throughout the Internet.

This led to the creation of the very first “e-Case”– a story of how a small nonprofit responded to predatory lending surrounding the Earned Income Tax Credit. This prototype took too long to make and, frankly, wasn’t as sophisticated as it needed to be, given our students’ expectations of such things. So we went back to the drawing board and took advantage of affordable open source software and made the development process accessible to instructors and their students alike.

Since the creation of this initial e-Case, the Project has grown into an initiative that not only supports the creation of E-Cases, but two other material types as well – the shorter E-Studyand the Video Brief. The tools used to build these materials (low cost) and developed process (streamlined) allowed it to scale into a global initiative.  In 2011, the Humphrey School of Public Affairs and Hong Kong University’s College of Social Sciences signed on as operational partners, committing their support to the Project’s growth and to their faculty and students in the creation of materials. In 2014, the Hubert Project Team partnered with the Partnership for African Social Governance Research to train and mentor faculty from across Africa in the creation of e-Cases for new Master of Research and Public Policy programs. The collection grows in breadth and depth monthly from contributions of doctoral students and faculty.  

The Hubert Team continually gets reports from instructors worldwide who are using the materials about the increase in interactivity of their class participation and discussions.  Some instructors have now started using the same tools and workflow to structure multimedia student group projects.

Going forward, we hope to engender ownership in this initiative across public affairs educational institutions. As market dynamics in higher education shift, there is an increased urgency to the call for professionalism and practicality in our programs. Through the use of multimedia learning materials and interactive teaching methods, we can offer unparalleled opportunities for deep learning and reflection. We hope you’ll join us.

Interested in getting involved? Take the first step by registering at and searching the Collection for materials relevant to your teaching or training. Then, consider creating multimedia learning material to use in your curriculum or supplement your scholarly research via an RFP open right now for the creation of new e-learning materials (open through December 2014) or attend a June 2015 workshop on using and creating multimedia learning materials being held in conjunction with the Public Management Research Conference. If you have any questions or new ideas, get in touch with the Hubert project staff at

Jodi Sandfort is Chair of the Leadership & Management Area and an Associate Professor at the University of Minnesota, Humphrey School of Public Affairs. Her research, teaching, and practice focus on improving the implementation of social policy, particularly those policies designed to support low-income children and their families. As a result, she works with and studies the leaders, organizations, and networks of public, private, and philanthropic organizations that develop and deliver social programs.


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