Jana Neiman-Zenevich

OpenLab is a design and innovation shop dedicated to finding creative solutions that transform the way health care is delivered and experienced.

OpenLab is a design and innovation shop dedicated to finding creative solutions that transform the way health care is delivered and experienced.

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A Transformative Education

If you, or someone you know, is interested in a different kind of graduate program, who is motivated to learn by doing and is seeking a transformative education, then we need to talk.

Access To Vaccines: Overcoming Challenges And Exploiting Opportunities

Gabriella Chan for the TRP | March 2021 “A global pandemic requires a world effort to end it – none of us will be safe until everyone is safe”. Ursula von der Leyden, President of the European Commission As the 2019 SARS-CoV-2 induced Corona Virus Disease (COVID-19)...

OpenLab is a design and innovation shop dedicated to finding creative solutions that transform the way health care is delivered and experienced.

A Transformative Education

At the TRP our goal is not to teach. Our goal is not to lecture or have you memorize some datum likely to change before you finish your degree, or that a search engine can find faster than you can formulate the question.

The TRP is a community and a mindset of people who are resources, facilitators, mentors, peers, guides and catalysts whose aim is to help those, who are looking to learn, to explore, to push the boundaries of their experience to seek knowledge.

The TRP is not intended to be divided as a degree of teacher-task-masters and students–those who know one truth and those hoping to memorize that truth. Instead, the program strives to be a community of people motivated to learn, to seek knowledge, to help others to be more and do more. In this community, the focus is not on the content but on understanding the processes, the mechanisms of creative problem-solving and innovation.

Students learn alongside the faculty–we learn together and from each other. We learn from real-world contexts and from failure–not from arbitrary grades or standardized testing–because our collective goals are not to pass a test or earn a grade but to improve lives, to learn to champion change that will improve the lives of others.

Now, we are starting to seek people join our 2021 cohort. Those motivated to learn, those seeking to move beyond their comfort zones, to challenge ambiguity, who want to focus on the processes of innovating of generating new ideas and championing change for positive impact are the kindred spirits we seek–these are the people we seek to join our ranks.

If you, or someone you know, is interested in a different kind of graduate program, who is motivated to learn by doing and is seeking a transformative education, then we need to talk. Come to an information session, read the website, arrange a consultation with someone from our team.

One day soon, we, trainees, mentors, facilitators, students, residents, PI’s, researchers, clinicians, healthcare professionals, and many others, will form a global network of professional translators, who think globally but work locally to improve the health and well-being of people in our communities. And together we will transform health, care and medicine.

Join us.

Just give me the fish!–The dilemma of ‘teaching’ innovative thinking

Over the years I have on many occasions heard students say “We need something more concrete” or “If you give us a check-list and your expectations, then we will know what to do”; and I have often heard myself trying to explain that the goal of an assignment is to get students to think critically and or differently about a complex problem.  I have on many occasions had to explain that the directions are intentionally vague or ambiguous and that the expectations is that students adapt assignments to their learning interests and contexts.  I have found it frustrating that, when trying to teach students to think differently, inventively and creatively that they so often continue to place emphasis on the grade of an assignment rather than on the learning process or on their own individual development.
As many others have been increasingly stating, this is a fundamental problem with an out-dated approach to education that permeates most classrooms and levels of education, but in a program intended to help people be innovative and creative focused on self-directed and experiential learning, where the problems of health and care are rarely simple or straightforward, I guess I assumed that students selected and who self-selected for the graduate program would understand that there is (currently) no concrete and absolute formula for innovation.
But telling students that concrete and rigid approaches to learning to abstract where absolutely antithetical to the purposes and goals of the program they had signed up for, wasn’t working.  So, I decided to do something that is somewhat antithetical to my approach, I turned to the literature.  Self-directed experiential and integrative learning are based on the idea that students achieve deep learning by reflecting and abstracting from experiences.  Kolb (2001), includes abstraction and integration as key steps in the learning cycle.  Knowles (1972), in his seminal work on adult self-directed learning discusses how adult learners are interested in problem-based learning that has immediate implications for their life or work experience.
It seems that these two concepts have actually capture a tension that permeates most approaches to higher-level education and is particularly true for adult education.  On the one side is a desire to understand the forms and rules of a domain, skill or competency: “teach me what to do.” On the other hand, is the notion of how do I use this: “let me do it.”  It is an old tension.  The tension between form and function; between standardization and independence; between the establishment and the path-less traveled; the difference between following instructions and learning how to develop your own instructions; between being given a fish, and being taught how to fish.  This is not a new problem.
Unfortunately, many students have been educated in a system that prioritizes the standardization of processes towards a harmonized assessment process for purposes of credentialing and certification of basic levels of competence over the focus on individual development.  Most students have learned to prioritize external evaluations and metrics over individual interests, strengths and development.  In essence, ‘good students’ have learned how to play the educational game well.
This makes them ‘good students’ but bad independent thinkers.  In an age where memorization, repetition and following a predetermined formula is increasingly the role of intelligent algorithms, creativity, collaboration, abductive thinking, navigating complexity are becoming increasingly important for human agents.  To become better independent thinkers, creative thinkers and innovators, we must first un-teach what has been taught.  Without this step, the people who are currently in the system, the young and the experienced (though particularly the ‘experienced’) continue mapping everything ‘new’ being taught into their established mental models.  They frame new learning in terms of their established understandings.  For andragogy, this is a particularly difficult challenge.  It’s harder to mobilize people with lower neuroplasticity out of their cognitive biases, but to push people to be more creative, more innovative and better problem solvers, we have to break-down old patterns and challenge established assumptions, we must get learners to learn to “UNLEARN”.  This must be the priority before we can start to think differently.
But the question remains, how?  Or maybe not how—since there are ways that do seem to work—maybe the question is: how do we do it better?  This is the question that keeps me up at night.
Knowles, M. S., Holton, E., & Swanson, R. (1972). Andragogy. NETCHE
Kolb, D. A., Boyatzis, R. E., & Mainemelis, C. (2001). Experiential learning theory: Previous research and new directions. Perspectives on thinking, learning, and cognitive styles1(8), 227-247.

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