Personalized learning is for online courses, too
- eCornell CEO Paul Krause said his organization, which started as an entrepreneurial unit of Cornell University's main campus and now provides much of the institution's online infrastructure and marketing, has laid out a model for massive open online course (MOOCs) providers to look to as an example for monetization.
- Personalization is important, said Krause during a conversation in Austin last week. Even in an online or blended space, he said, offering relevant, engaging experiences is the best way to get the desired outcomes for the average students.
- To achieve the needed level of personalization, Krause said instructors and course designers should find ways to embed high levels of peer-to-peer interaction, even within online modules, and incorporate course examples that are timely and relevant to students.
Personalized learning is a concept that is often discussed in K-12 circles, but is just making its way to the higher education space. For students who have grown up digital natives accustomed to constant stimuli, sitting in a lecture hall being read to for hours is almost torture — and they don't learn. Structured activities within online course settings and encouraging a high level of intra-class communication with plenty of social opportunities and encouraging students to talk to each other can help students build community and increase their sense of belonging, which research has shown impacts persistence.
Equally important, however, is limiting enrollment in online classes to promote smaller class sizes and allow the professor the opportunity to interact with each student. There is often a tendency to allow online sections to take on twice the number of students that would be in a traditional brick-and-mortar class because the prevalent thinking is if it's online, students won't notice and the student experience won't be affected. But faculty members still have to grade assignments, be available for questions, and find ways to provide individual attention to each student, which can be impeded by having too many students enrolled.
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