During my trip to Germany with The Center for International Understanding (@GlobalCIU) and 32 other educators, we had the opportunity to visit the Siemens (@Siemens) Professional Education Center in Berlin, Germany.
Before I really sell home my idea…here is a rundown of what you could expect as a teacher or student in the Siemens Professional Education Center.
- The average age of the first year student seemed to be around 20, but I met some 18 years old and some 25 year olds who were just getting started.
- The Siemens Professional Education Center is a cross-over between a trade school, a community college, and a 4-year college. Students have completed high school (and some even college) and they are learning a unique skill set (electrical engineering, mechanics, etc.).
- These students are being trained to join the Siemens workforce, but theoretically, their training would allow them to work for any company offering the same job they are being trained for. Their education is highly specified for Siemens, but the core principals can be applied in any similar setting. As a Siemens’ teacher pointed out, his students should be able to walk into any factory and identify and fix any problem with a production assembly line.
- Lecture/lessons is always accompanied by intensive, collaborative, problem-based learning projects.
- Team work is a STRONG focus at Siemens.
- They have just started an international program, but you are expected to learn German within two months.
- Teachers are very highly respected and the environment appeared more relaxed than traditional American schools.
- Many of the teachers (if not all) were products of the same school.
- Siemens spends millions of dollars on their professional training center in Berlin. When asked, “what is their monetary return for their company on this huge financial investment?,” the director of the Siemens Educational Department replied, “our future.”
- Knowledge is important at Siemens, but the vast majority of the knowledge is obtained through practice and real-life application, which leads me to my overall point…
I noticed more and more that what Siemens prides itself on about its Professional Education Center are the same principals that are rooted in the flipped classroom. The flipped classroom – if done correctly – works so well because of the focus on real-life application. Students are provided with a small amount of basic content via videos, VoiceThread, or any other multimedia. Then the students are asked to investigate a topic even further and deeper and apply what they learn through that investigation to a larger, more applicable problem. A flipped classroom allows for a problem-based learning environment that many teachers say they do not have time for, and Siemens also recognizes the value in a similar approach.
Siemens incorporates the flipped classroom ideals (minus the videos) in an effort to help their students become highly successful and knowledgeable employees. Flipped classroom teachers incorporate the videos, the investigation, and the application in an effort to help their students become highly successful and knowledgeable citizens (assuming we never mention standardized testing). Slightly different outcomes with very similar processes.
***The picture above features a once gas-powered car that was converted to an electrical-powered car by students at Siemens.