Innovation Lab Paves Way for Enhanced Student Experience

Innovation at West Coast University has been described by faculty as the place “where education meets art and technology.” In the lab, ideas and projects are always brewing. Ideas are developed following our stage-gate process to continuously reimagine the student experience. The lab seeks to create graduates who are more prepared to meet the demands of a fast-changing workplace. Our focus in the innovation center is to test novel ideas and technologies that can improve the student experience.

One of the most important parts of the educational innovation process is to bring faculty, associates, and students along with us on the journey. We source ideas directly from faculty and associates through our innovation platform, and this helps us to discover opportunities and determine which ideas have traction, though the collective wisdom of the crowd. Our goal is to innovate with others, not to them. By approaching innovation as a collaborative process, we help to ensure that we maintain a student-centric focus in our work.

At West Coast University, whether innovation is driven from listening to students and faculty, and/or being prepared to act when opportunities present, we are crystal clear on the final destination: Innovation that leads to enhanced learning experiences and improved student outcomes.

We believe very strongly that innovation is an investment in our students. Here are a couple recent examples:

Learning Gamification

One of the more complex and yet critically foundational components of almost any healthcare education, from nursing to physician assistant, from pharmacy to dental hygiene, is vocabulary. In many ways it’s like learning a second language.

With eyes open and ears to the ground, the problem (How can we leverage technology to simplify memorization and retention of medical terminology?) presented and the opportunity to innovate to improve student outcomes was born.

Introducing The Medibytes App

The Medibytes App simplifies learning, and makes it more fun, through gamification. Students who download the app can begin by studying “flash cards” that have images, pronunciations and breakdowns of each word (by root as well as prefix and/or suffix) for each unit, and then once they feel comfortable with the material they can “play the game,” progressing from one unit to the next as the successfully pass through each level.

So what about the destination, improving student outcomes? Students who used the app performed 9% better than those who did not have access to the app.

Episodic Learning

Episodic learning is a way of storing information gathered through witnessing or experiencing events in sequence. To harness this, and make learning more engaging and memorable, we’ve developed another breakthrough innovation to enhance the student learning experience: our “episodic learning” series.

Modeled on the “binge-able” streaming series habit we’re all so familiar with, we’ve incorporated into the curricula of many of our programs some video series built around characters who are living and experiencing many of the same things our students are.

As one of our students said: “The Hannah episodes enhance my learning by giving me someone to relate to.”

The Hannah series focuses on grit and stick-to-it-iveness and is seen by Business Administration and Healthcare Administration students, among some others, and then there’s also a series about Sara that’s seen by our RN-to-BSN students in their leadership course; and a series about Natalia that’s shown in our Anatomy course and, appropriately enough, titled “Anatomy of a Mystery.”

Like Medibytes, which incorporates something our students are already familiar and comfortable with (apps and gamification) into learning, these episodic series do the same thing by incorporating streaming video series as a way to enhance their learning experience.

So, again though, what about the destination has improved student outcomes?

In addition to the quantitative results – fully 100% of student respondents agreed or strongly agreed that the series “enhanced their learning experience” – let’s hear from the students themselves via their own responses about the series:

“It is a clearer way to absorb the lessons.”

“The story made me feel supported, like someone could understand my struggles and empower me to continue.”

“Hannah enhanced my learning experience by representing what it is to grow as a mother, a friend and a student.”

“It made learning easier.”

“It gave me confidence, showing me no matter what challenges come along keep fighting toward your goals.”

“The Hannah series taught me new methods to enhance my learning, manage my time and also taught me more about having a growth mindset.”

These are just some of the ways we are enhancing learning for students enrolled in West Coast University Online Programs; to learn more about all of our online programs at West Coast University, and whether an online degree is right for you, please click here to learn more.

WCU provides career guidance and assistance but cannot guarantee employment. The views and opinions expressed are those of the individuals and do not necessarily reflect the beliefs or position of the school or of any instructor or student.