Business school embraces ‘KDBIN’ framework

March 21, 2013

Why should students brave the cold for an early morning class when they can access the same lectures from their room, on their own schedule, and at their own pace? What future is there for on-campus degree programs in the connected 
digital world?

The Wisconsin School of Business has embraced a new framework, dubbed “KDBIN,” to confront those questions.

“The perfect storm of shifting funding models and new online technologies challenges us to address fundamental questions about how we deliver higher education,” says Dean François Ortalo-Magné. “The debate over the value of the traditional campus experience has pushed the [school] to identify its established strengths and its priorities for the future.”

This inquiry led to the development of KDBIN. The school is currently working to articulate ideal learning outcomes for every program, degree, and major along the five KDBIN dimensions: knowing, doing, being, inspiring and networking. The dimensions give faculty and staff a common language for the conversation about what it means to be a “Business Badger.”

The framework was developed from listening to alumni reflect on what elements of their education set them up for success. They mentioned technical competence and confidence. They spoke of teamwork and presentation skills, of the ability to perform under stressful conditions and deal with ambiguity, and of exposure to foreign environments. 
They remembered inspiring teachers and experiences that pushed them beyond their comfort zones and sealed lifelong friendships. They enthusiastically recalled the sense of community formed during shared experiences in the school, at the Memorial Union, in Camp Randall, on State Street, and around the world.

Photo: Francois Ortalo-Magné


Most institutions of higher education have already moved beyond focusing exclusively on delivering knowledge. Doing and being reflect trends that revised the traditional model but have now spread widely. Like many of its peers, the Wisconsin School of Business challenges students to learn by doing and applying what they know, while devoting attention to ethics and self-awareness as part of the curriculum. Now, the school is seeking to set itself apart by also focusing on inspiring and networking. 

“KDBIN embodies the school’s belief that education should go beyond individual courses and tests: it should be a holistic endeavor that nurtures the human spirit by attending to the whole person, preparing students to address topics such as work-life balance and their broader values and goals,” says Suzanne Dove, special assistant to the dean and KDBIN project lead.

KDBIN is designed to challenge the current model of curriculum delivery, requiring partnerships on campus and beyond. The school plans to collaborate beyond its Grainger Hall home with UW schools and colleges, the Memorial Union, other universities, and international exchange programs.

The school is enlisting partners from the UW’s Division of Information Technology and School of Education to make reasoned decisions to use new technology when it clearly enriches the student experience, rather than simply replacing classroom lectures with online videos without a clear purpose.

“Education is about more than pushing knowledge into young brains,” Ortalo-Magné says. “Schools that move from teaching their students a sequence of classes to helping them achieve a full portfolio of KDBIN learning outcomes will define the future 
of higher education. KDBIN is our pathway to leadership.”

—Elizabeth Gudrais