Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

Interest in Alternative Study Models 'Causing Real Angst' for Universities

Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

Interest in Alternative Study Models 'Causing Real Angst' for Universities

Article excerpt

Courses are evolving to serve 'post-traditional' US students, conference hears. Chris Parr reports

College education in the US is being shaken up by alternative models that are evolving to target students who feel "over-served" by traditional universities, a conference has heard.

Diana Oblinger, chief executive and president of the US non-profit organisation Educause, which promotes the intelligent use of technology in universities, said that less than a fifth of students in the US were now "traditional learners" - those leaving high school and going to college full time.

"By far the majority of people we have in our educational system are what we now call post-traditional," she told the Jisc Digital Festival in Birmingham on 11 March.

Efforts to effectively target this group of students - which includes adults and those already in work - were "causing real angst" for universities, Dr Oblinger said.

"We're finding many students feel they are over-served by the traditional education system," she said. "Many of them want a pathway - a bridge to the additional credentials to get the next better job to improve their wage rate. They are not after the same experience that you or I might have been after."

As a result, "very different models" of study are evolving in the US - in particular, courses with a strong focus on "competency-based education".

"You can develop these competencies at home, in the workplace, in self-study or in the military, then you come in [to a higher education institution] and prove you have those skills," Dr Oblinger said. …

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