Healthy Skepticism–The Key Ingredient for Deep Learning – O'Donnell Learn

Healthy Skepticism–The Key Ingredient for Deep Learning

Published by Carrie O'Donnell
on Oct 10, 2019

On my first day of college, as my parents dropped me off at Holy Cross, my father gave me some sage advice: the most important thing you can take away from your next four years is a healthy skepticism. As I earned my liberal arts degree, there were loads of learning activities that helped me to practice healthy skepticism: interpretive reading, argumentative writing, persuasive oral communications, peer instruction, and collaboration. These are all the building blocks of deep learning.

Today, more of our degrees are career focused than the liberal arts degree I attained. Theoretically, the general education portion of today’s degree exposes every student to the liberal arts. But, I have found in my extensive travels through higher education that way too many core courses are anti-healthy skepticism, They are survey courses–focused on a broad scan of a lot of content, on regurgitating terms, theories and concepts. Too often, we forgo the building blocks of deep learning.

There is a lot of research showing that employers are looking for students who are better prepared in these building block areas. For example, the National Association of Colleges and Employers, in a recent study, found that employers seek “soft skill” attributes more than the technical skills and theoretical knowledge that is so prevalent in today’s degrees.

There is no doubt that career-focused degrees are here to stay. Arguable, they should be. Education is so costly that it should prepare our learners for the world of work. But, to be successful employees, students also need to be taught how to be deep learners, possessing a healthy skepticism that in turn, cultivates lifelong learning. Schools fail their students if they don’t provide the opportunity to practice the building blocks of deep learning – and every degree should serve up healthy skepticism in large doses.


Purposeful Learning DesignTM – Why People are at the Center of Everything We Do

Published By Carrie O'Donnell
on Jan 15, 2021

I’m often asked why our company is so good at collaborating with  faculty. The first time I heard this question, I didn’t realize clients found this unique to O’Donnell Learn. We’ve always been great partners  because people are at the heart of everything we do. In fact, our entire design philosophy - Purposeful Learning DesignTM - is anchored around people.  It starts with this truth: learning is for people. As such, learning design should be grounded in empathy and it should promote success for both learners and faculty. Purposeful Learning Design is the philosophy we embrace to ensure we never lose sight of this truth. It is comprised of six key considerations.

2020 Reflective: Breathe Deep and Stay Agile

Published By Joana Jebsen
on Dec 22, 2020

While end-of-year survey results are still to come for how enrolled students are evaluating their 2020 college experience, I queried two of our staff, both students, about their overall experience and considered how these compared to what I was seeing with O’Donnell Learn clients. Kellie, our graphic design intern, just completed her Associates Degree in Graphic design. Prior to 2020, all of her courses met on campus. Cathryn, a Learning Design Associate is currently enrolled in an online Master of Education program in eLearning and Instructional Design. As this program was conceived as online delivery, it serves as a benchmark to compare against courses that were forced by COVID to switch delivery modes.

Evolving Our Project Management to Advance Client Results

Published By Craig Leonard
on Dec 16, 2020

If you were to talk to anyone in our organization, you’d quickly discover that we are all truly passionate about learning. So much so, that always learning is one of our core values. Learning from our successes, failures and each other is integral to how we operate and how we’ve grown into the agile company we are today.