Magazine article Talent Development

Student-Driven Personalized Learning Is Trending in Higher Education

Magazine article Talent Development

Student-Driven Personalized Learning Is Trending in Higher Education

Article excerpt

Personalization is everywhere in our technologically advanced world. On the Internet, various services-from Amazon to Netflix-use your history to offer up similar options. This sort of personalization is gaining traction in the education world, too. We asked our higher-ed partners how student-driven personalized learning is affecting their universities, and how the practice could become more widespread in the future.

New world of learning

"As in so many other areas of our digital lives, learners are also demanding personalized education," says Cali Morrison, director of alternative learning at the American Public University System. "Demand for personalized learning is increasing, especially as learner demographics change. Adult learners need programs that accommodate their busy lives, while more traditionally aged learners crave the same personalization they get accessing their favorite services or playing their favorite games"

According to Morrison, personalized learning-in all its forms-is still on the rise, changing the landscape of learning. However, it's worth noting that some of the new learning technologies (such as adaptive platforms and gamification) could lose momentum as more use cases become available.

She adds that, regardless of all these new technologies, nothing can replace a knowledgeable instructor. Still, in an uncertain higher education climate, the practice of letting students control their own learning experiences can be useful.

"Public funding for college education is decreasing," says Jo Ann Fenner, a manager of marketing and outreach services at Boise State University. "College costs are rising. Employers often decry the low levels of workplace readiness in college graduates. Graduates are incurring record debt. Student-driven personalized learning is one approach to facing these challenges. Student-driven personalized learning is forcing universities to rethink their relationships with their students, graduates, employers, and the larger community."

According to Christina Murphy, the executive education program manager at Rutgers Business School, student-driven personalized learning can be particularly useful considering its ability to prepare students for today's working world.

"As the world of business continues to change and become more and more competitive, certificate programs-especially those offered by academic institutions like Rutgers Business School-offer a unique opportunity to update one's resume and gain a deeper and fuller understanding of a given topic than what can be offered by the commonplace industry trade shows and conferences, and in a much more personalized setting," she says.

Making it work

All of the above institutions have brought student-driven personalized learning practices into their curricula. At Boise State, the practice is used heavily for the university's online Organizational Performance and Workplace Learning program, which is for students looking to make career changes and for students hoping to improve their skills in their chosen field. Student-driven learning helps students consider the coursework that's best for them on an individual basis, and helps them create a portfolio of their work.

Student-driven personalized learning also factors into how success is defined. Instead of success and grades being equated, success is measured on what is important to the learners themselves.

At American Public University System, student-driven personalized learning is further explored through new technologies and adaptive learning techniques. …

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