Named for the late Nobel and Turing Award laureate and CMU Professor Herbert A. Simon, the Simon Initiative harnesses a cross-disciplinary learning engineering ecosystem that has developed over several decades at Carnegie Mellon. The initiative’s goal is to measurably improve student learning outcomes.
CMU’s global mission for this initiative is to ‘Provide accessible tools and methods with which any person or institution can adopt and advance CMU’s approach to learning engineering, improving outcomes for their own learners.’ In 2015 Dr. Subra Suresh, CMU’s president at the time, and Dr. Paul Hennigan, President of Point Park University, proposed to their PCHE colleagues the idea of creating multi-disciplinary teams from each institution to participate in a Simon Initiative Summer Institute. These teams would learn new technologies and methodologies to create learning modules using CMU’s Open Learning Initiative (OLI platform), an online tool designed to enhance learning outcomes through the application of learning science principles and tools, all the while gathering data that can inform future efforts at, well, improving learning outcomes.
The first cohort representing nine PCHE schools participated in the Simon Initiative Summer Institute in 2016 hosted by Point Park University. The feedback was positive, stretching our respective institutions and injecting new ideas into course construction and learner outcomes. The second cohort of PCHE teams participated in the Summer Institute in 2017, hosted by Duquesne University, creating another group of innovative teams consisting of faculty, curriculum developers and IT staff.