"Pop-up" courses offer primers on relevant issues
- St. Michael's College, a private institution based in Vermont, is offering two "pop-up" courses, which are intended to engage students on hot topics not necessarily addressed in traditional course programs. According to Campus Technology, the courses provide up to one credit and are pass/fail.
- Karen Talentino, vice president of academic affairs, said the courses allow the college to be more responsive to students' interests, and noted that students can suggest subject matter for future pop-up courses. She also pointed out that other institutions, including Stanford University, are considering pop-up courses.
- The first two pop-up courses offered by St. Michael's College are a course on diversity, inclusion and leadership on college campuses and a course on new technologies and personal security in the digital space.
When Bennington College's pop-up courses premiered last November, there was similar emphasis on subject matter in the headlines, including the 2016 presidential election.
In addition, pop-up courses could help administrators respond more quickly to brewing controversies on campuses, creating a productive forum for discussion about difficult issues. Many college presidents and officials have faced harsh criticism in recent years due to controversial issues on campus, and the problems often arose when students felt administrations did not react quickly to their concerns.
Addressing campus controversies through pop-up courses could act as both a tangible sign of administrative responsiveness and engagement as well as a venue for students to learn from each other about a variety of issues, ranging from concerns about how administrators handle racial tensions to the rights students when they protest.
Furthermore, institutions can take advantage of the pop-up format to introduce skills-based learning. For example, pop-up courses can be designed like the classes prevalent in career certificate and microcredential programs, including those California invested in this past summer. Schools could tie pop-up courses to skills and technologies applicable to the local economy, raising tuition revenue by opening the courses non-students living and working in the area. For example, if a company plans a new factory or new store in a city or region, a local college could offer a pop-up course designed for the skills that the firm needs its employees to master.