By Jacob Murray
Phil Regier’s recent article for Educause hit the nail on the head. In his piece, Regier talks about the lack of support within higher education for nontraditional students, and how technology can help fix it.
“Higher education needs to focus on the success of nontraditional students, those who fail to graduate during their first engagement in college, by leveraging new technology solutions that better align with students’ life challenges, pace, and other unique characteristics.”
The plight of nontraditional students has been a growing problem for nearly a decade, and most universities have been slow to adapt. If things don’t change, Regier predicts a bleak future for higher education across the board. Fidelis is proud to partner with ASU to make sure that these bleak predictions never come true.
Regier discusses a handful of key components that education technology must have in order to be relevant and effective. This vision includes:
- Faculty Engagement and Support
- Personalized and Adaptive Learning Technologies
- Personalized Coaching, and
- Accelerated Courses (Condensed Class Format)
Here is a quick rundown of how Fidelis’ LRM fulfills these needs.
Faculty Engagement and Support
Our LRM is designed around this exact concept. It’s very difficult for faculty to collaborate and support individual students without a CRM-like system. The problem is, CRMs are sales tools, custom built to allow salespeople track engagement with customers and potential customers for the express purpose of selling more stuff faster. But CRMs like Salesforce don’t allow students to be active participants. A CRM is a one-way street. So we developed a Learning Relationship Management system that recognizes that the student is not just a participant, but the most important, most active driver of their own education. The LRM simplifies engagement and support between students, faculty, and anyone else invested in the learning process.
Personalized and Adaptive Learning Technologies
There are many levels of personalization and adaptation – what you learn, who you learn with, when you learn, why, what and how. The LRM addresses each except for how. Adaptive learning technologies like Smart Sparrow pick up on the how and we see a powerful future for that kind of adaptation even though we don’t address it.
Every student who uses the LRM starts by designing their own personalized education plan. Students can even utilize their support network of coaches and mentors to help them map the path that best aligns with their ultimate goals. Which leads me into next component…
Let’s say I want to become an electrical engineer, and my college faculty advisor has been assigned as my coach. My coach can point me toward Learning Apps and Badges that align to my individual strengths and weaknesses. And when I fall short of the goals I set for myself, my coach will be there to help me push forward and adjust course.
But a single coach can only help so much, so the LRM complements that professional coaching effort with mentors that students recruit to help them achieve their objectives. The idea is to make every learner and autodidactic self-motivator. And mentors are a big part of that. In the meantime, coaches make all the difference.
Accelerated Courses (Condensed Class Format)
Any Learning Apps (courses) created on our system can be self paced and unmoderated. This means that students who need extra time can take the time they need, but just as important, students who want to finish in a hurry can easily do so. Courses built on our platform are flexible and don’t force students to follow a traditional schedule.
So here we are, a growing startup with a variety of customers, but the battle is just beginning. As Regier points out:
“Solutions to these problems require thoughtful analysis, innovation, and energy, as well as the courage and willingness to shift the perspective of the college/university from a faculty-centric model to a student-centric model.”
We’ve taken the first step with our LRM, and we can’t wait to see where it takes us.
Phil Regier is the Executive Vice Provost of Arizona State University and Dean of ASU Online. You can read his Educause article here.