As we plan out the sessions, I’ve begun to do some background reading on personalized learning in higher education. I recently wrote about what higher ed can learn from K-12 in relation to personalized learning, but I’m just now digging into the topic from the higher ed perspective. In this post, I’ll summarize a few of my key “ah-ha” moments and finish with a selected reading list if you’re interested in digging deeper into the topic.
Key points related to personalized learning in higher ed
It seems to me that personalized learning is typically conceptualized a little differently in higher ed than in K-12. It seems that there is less emphasis on the instructional design side of things, with more emphasis on tools and structures in higher ed. Specifically, as I read through some of the following sources, the following major assumptions or areas of emphasis emerged:
- Personalized learning efforts allow students to move through a course, program or degree at their own pace.
- Courses and programs should be competency-based; this helps, in part, to bridge formal and informal learning experiences.
- Learning analytics connected with the course learning management system can help instructors track student progress, identify areas for further work, and ensure that students master relevant competencies.
- Adaptive learning software, while expensive, is critical to truly personalize the learning experience for students in online or hybrid courses.
- Personalized learning should open up multiple pathways for students to earn their degrees.
If one or more of these aspects of personalized learning is of interest to you, I encourage you to explore the following resources that I found helpful in understanding the basics and different aspects of the topic.
Selected readings to explore personalized learning in higher ed
What is Personalized Learning from Northern Arizona University provides a nice overview of the approach that has been recognized by a number of groups including Educause, the Gates Foundation and Next Generation Learning Challenges as an exemplary model. The page provides a nice overview of the model, including how their approach to personalization goes beyond more typical online learning approaches to personalization.
The Coming Era of Personalized Learning Paths by Peter Smith for Educause Review traces the historical development of personalized learning in higher education. He goes on to argue how powerful learning analytics and adaptive learning tools provide us the capacity to scale these approaches throughout higher education.
The ‘Personalization’ of Higher Education: Using Technology to Enhance the College Experience by Louis Soares for the Center for American Progress overviews how technology tools can help to personalize the learning experience for college students. Specifically, Soares explores how technologies can personalize how students interact with and learn from content, how they can identify courses in which to enroll, and how they can motivate students to persist in college.
Adaptive Learning Technologies by Brian Fleming for Eduventures explores one key component of technology-based personalization efforts: adaptive learning tools. The post highlights the key features of adaptive learning and features the work of the Open Learning Initiative at Carnegie Mellon as an example.
The Personalized Learning portal from Educause provides an excellent jumping off point to explore key topics and concepts related to personalized learning. Of the resources posted there, I particularly recommend 7 Things You Should Read about Personalized Learning, The Coming Era of Personalized Learning Paths, and the very cleverly named, Bigfoot, Goldilocks, and Moonshots: A Report from the Frontiers of Personalized Learning.
What readings would you add to the list?
Please post your comments below.