Take a look at an interesting series of posts on Applying Lean Tools to University Courses by Luke Van Dongen:
We have discovered that creating a common experience in the classroom is absolutely essential. To accomplish this we implemented a modified production simulation exercise and in doing so, bring the opportunity to Go & See to the students. These types of simulations are quite common and are usually done with building blocks or paper airplanes. We chose paper airplanes and created a simulation that we run with the class as part of our very first class session. The exercise takes about 4 hours to run, during which time students build paper airplanes in groups of 4 or 5.
Good stuff. There should be much more simulation in education in my opinion. It is effective, and as mentioned, can be used to tie concepts back to a shared experience. Some worthwhile articles on quality improvement in education: Using Systems Thinking To Improve Education by Maury Cotter, The Trouble With “Back-to-Basics” and “Tougher Standards” by Alfie Kohn, Teaching Quality Improvement by Quality Improvement in Teaching by Ian Hau, Applying Total Quality Management Principles To Secondary Education by Kathleen Cotton, Using QFD to Design a TQM Course by Glenn Mazur.
Related: Suggested books for quality improvement in education – Ackoff on learning, education and teaching (podcast) – higher education improvement links – primary education improvement directory