Morningside & Western Iowa Tech Launch Project Siouxland
Project Siouxland is designed to infuse experiential-learning, project-based learning, teamwork, community-based learning and creative problem solving in a single class. Students at both colleges take part in real world learning by working in teams to solve complex projects provided by community partners. The program is under the direction of Liz Sheka, who spent the last two years of her 25 years in education at Iowa BIG, an initiative-based program for similar to Project Siouxland for high school students in Cedar Rapids.
“The work I was doing at the high school level was inspiring because it was a game-changer for those students. They chose projects that interested them, then took those projects from start to finish, and learned in a way that doesn't happen in a traditional classroom. I am excited to bring this type of education to Morningside and Western Iowa Tech Community College,” said Sheka.
There are about a dozen students signed up for the class through WIT and 20 through Morningside. Sheka has secured nine nonprofit and business partners who will pitch their project to the students. The students will select a project that inspires them and work with other students and faculty facilitators to complete the project. Through the process, the students will develop creative solutions, gain relevant knowledge, and gain skills to complete the work. A major difference from a traditional classroom, though, is that the student drives the learning.
“The Association of American Colleges and Universities surveys executives and employers to find out what they want in employees. The results are clear. Skills such as communication, team-work, creative problem solving, time management, self-motivation and critical thinking continually top the list. The innovative aspect of Project Siouxland is that students gain these skills by completing real world projects in the community,” said J. Alden Stout, associate vice president of academic affairs at Morningside College.
The excitement around Project Siouxland has also led to the creation of the space on Morningside’s campus. Through the generosity of long-time friends to Morningside College, Dick and Marilyn Engle and Carol Junck, the third floor of Morningside’s Hickman-Johnson-Furrow Learning Center was transformed to create the right environment for Project Siouxland students. The space features flexible seating and technology for collaborative working that will be used by Project Siouxland, as well as other Morningside programs.
What’s most exciting for faculty and staff at Morningside and WIT, though, is the opportunity to have students and faculty at both colleges collaborating while bettering themselves and the community.
“Western Iowa Tech Community College is very excited about this new venture, Project Siouxland, and the opportunity to expand further our collaborative partnership with Morningside College. Our college values the personal, intellectual, and occupational growth of our students. We are proud to be involved in a project that maximizes student success and benefits employers in the Siouxland community,” said Juline Albert, vice president of learning at WIT.
If you are a nonprofit or business interested in partnering with Project Siouxland or if you would like more information, visit projectsiouxland.com.