IP Educators in Residence Make The Case for Intellectual Property Education as Experiential Learning

Posted By: Rachelle Mulumba NACCE Blog,

This month during National Entrepreneurship Week (Feb 12-19, 2022) the Michelson Institute for Intellectual Property (Michelson IP) joined our partners at NACCE to celebrate America's Entrepreneurship Ecosystem through a weeklong series of learning webinars. NACCE & Michelson IP Educators in Residence or IP EIRs, Gary Graves (Fullerton College, CA) and Pamela Bogdan (Ocean County College, NJ) gave a talk on the importance of IP education and how Michelson IP’s free curriculum and resources have aided them in integrating experiential learning into the classroom.

Experiential learning is an engaged learning process where students “learn by doing” and by reflecting on the experience.

“At Fullerton College this is one of the big things we’ve been talking about – in addition to guided pathways – in terms of engaging students and getting them to connect. There’s some who believe in this idea that experiential learning might be the path to keeping students enrolled, so they don’t go away,” Business & Entrepreneurship professor Gary Graves remarked.

STEM educator and patent holder professor Pamela Bogdan holds previous industry experience as an engineer at Bell Labs. She agrees that experiential learning may very well be the key to retention rates. “Experiential learning and work-based learning are almost synonymous in the world that I live in.”

With that said, intellectual property – which we define as the ownership of intangible and tangible creations of the mind – might appear at odds with the philosophy of classroom experiential learning especially if students have a fear of sharing their ideas. However, as our EIRs reiterated, students must see themselves as “thought workers.”

“We’re in a world that appreciates design and intellectual creation…IP and those thoughts are sellable goods,” Bodgan highlighted.

Contrary to popular belief, IP is not all about patents. Obtaining copyrights, trademarks, and trade secrets are also viable and cost-effective methods for students to launch an IP portfolio as part of their experiential learning curriculum. “We have a project going in one of my classes right now where we’re building and creating 3D models. We’re not filing for IP protection but we are walking through the process of these components to address what parts of the project can be protected”, Gary explained, “But that said trademarks are some of the simplest types of IP you can file.”

“We also need to think about copyrights and licensing,” Pamela added.

Entrepreneurial institutions would do well to think about providing small scale seed funding, specifically for students who decide to move forward with these cost-effective IP portfolio strategies. As far as resources, both EIRs stressed the importance of using the open source digital suite of IP education products and resources.

“Another set of materials that I’ve used are these IP scenarios that Michelson IP has developed, that make for a really good interactive session to get people thinking about what is intellectual property. And I’ve managed to use them for general audiences with our Wednesdays with STEM event series as well as our makerspaces learners,” Prof. Bogan concluded.

Any way you slice it, intellectual property is as real world as it gets when it comes to experiential learning and the IP Educators in Residence made a great case for why it should be a staple part of curriculum across disciplines.

The Michelson Institute for Intellectual Property, an initiative of the Michelson 20MM Foundation, provides access to empowering IP education for budding inventors and entrepreneurs. Michelson 20MM was founded thanks to the generous support of renowned spinal surgeon Dr. Gary K. Michelson and Alya Michelson. To learn more, visit 20mm.org.