college course development | 5 Ways to Develop Student-Centric Online Programs for Higher Education

5 Ways to Develop Student-Centric Online Programs for Higher Education

This blog talks about 5 ways to do student-centric college course development.

Educational institutions have long focused on disbursing education and knowledge through a one-size-fits-all approach. Even though these standardized models of learning did simplify things for the institutions and teachers, it is now being recognized that they offered limited benefits to students. The traditional methods of learning place the teacher in a pivotal role as the primary source of knowledge.

The entire process of education revolves around the teacher disbursing information in the form of class lessons and then testing the students’ grasp on these through quizzes and tests. In recent years, especially with e-learning gaining momentum, there has been a clear drift towards a student-centric model of education.

This is particularly true of higher education where program development is focused on addressing the needs of the students over the convenience of educational institutions or the faculty members.

Importance of Student-Centric college Course development for Colleges and Universities

The key difference between a teacher-centric and student-centric model of education is that the former is summative while the latter is formative. A student-focused model of learning has some obvious benefits. The foremost being that this form of education addresses the individual needs and goals of every student. Some of the other benefits that have placed student-centric models at the heart of college course development include: 

Faster Learning:

Research indicates that studying course materials that address individual needs help students grasp knowledge at a faster rate and improve retention.

Higher Engagement:

Unlike the preceding generations, the youth today has grown up in an era of computers, internet and smartphones. This inherently tech-savvy generation finds it easier to engage in online learning modules developed with their individual needs in mind rather than a one-size-fits-all classroom environment.

Value Addition in Educational Content:

This approach also creates an opportunity for dynamic college course development with room to improve and tweak the educational material on a need basis. A student-centric model is indeed the key that makes online learning optimally effectiv

Blended Learning Environment:

Student-centric course development, especially in higher education, does not remove teachers from the equation. Instead, it changes their role from disseminators of knowledge to guides that can help students improve their grasp of different concepts and steer their learning in the right direction.

How Can Institutions Enable Student-Centric College Course Development?

Unlike the K-12 level, college education is fundamentally more diverse with a blend of different subjects, streams and specializations. In such a diverse environment, how can institutions deliver on customized college course development that caters to the needs of each student? Two key models have emerged as a viable solution to this complex situation: 

Adaptive Learning: This model leverages the scope of eLearning to cater to every student’s unique needs. By making the course curriculum dynamic in nature, teaching methods are adapted to students’ individual needs and abilities based on their interactive experiences, responses to questions and tasks. This approach makes online learning central to the process of imparting and receiving education. 

Experiential Learning: This is a relatively new concept that seeks to improve traditional methods of education rather than defy them. This model places the choice of exploring the most well-suited learning options with the students. Based on this choice, the teacher curates a learning environment designed to guide the students toward the goal they seek to achieve. The objective of this method is to help students internalize the lessons rather than superficial learning for the sake of exam grades. 

With these two models as the foundation, here are 5 ways in which you can implement a student-centric approach to college course development:

Analysis Based Course Development

This approach can be pegged as the gold standard for student-centric college course development. A student’s skill sets, abilities and limitations are assessed with the help of a software, and this information is then integrated with a learning platform to tweak lecture structures, information, questions and assignments as per the identified individual abilities.

The effectiveness of the platform is further bolstered with the help of automated study plans designed to improve students’ performance and boost their confidence. This rendition of adaptive learning has proven to be especially successful in professional courses and entrance exams.

Integrated Structures of Learning

Another effective spin on the adaptive learning model is of adding value to online learning through integrated structures that work to bridge the gap between students and their instructors. This system specializes in creating a curriculum and lesson plans that cater to both individual and group needs. Tech tools are used to collect student data that helps in understanding their levels of comprehension, both as individuals as well as a group.

Then the curriculum for a particular subject matter is packaged together, leaving room for customizing it as per the individual style of learning of each student. This method keeps a student-centric approach at its heart while creating a standardized form of learning, making it a win-win from both instructional and administrative points of view.

Activity-Based Learning

If you thought activity-based learning belonged to the K-8 level, this adaptation of experiential learning may make you want to rethink and re-strategize your college course development process.

As the name suggests, this model relies on a range of robust activities to keep students engaged in the course curriculum while providing instructors instant insights into their abilities and levels of learning. The activities, that range from simple quizzes to engaging games, can be tailored as per the needs of each student. If a particular assignment doesn’t appeal to an individual or group of students, they can simply choose another, or have it tweaked as per their preferences.

Entertain and Engage

This is another model based on experiential learning that aims to encourage brain application in different productive ways. The idea is to entertain and engage the learners through games that help improve their comprehension capabilities to service the end-goal of internalizing the curriculum for the long term. This model is bolstered through two extremely useful elements – a research-based authoritative curriculum and the ability to track students’ performance at all times.

Predictive Learning

This method of implementing a student-centric approach to college course development and its dissemination leverages AI tools to make connections between a learner’s abilities and the curriculum as well as the progress and risks in a learner’s journey.

The approach can be specifically of interest to colleges and universities as it can help develop performance-driven course materials while retaining key concepts of traditional classroom learning. For this, a software can be used to predict student’s performance, assess their skill sets and tailor course content, thus, enabling a well-rounded closing of gaps in the learning process.

Researchers, educators, as well as colleges and universities, are constantly working toward improving the quality of education to create a future-ready generation. As the technology around us continues to advance, there are many different ways and means to attain that goal.

Irrespective of which method you choose, student-centric learning will most likely be the future of learning styles. As such, it is wise to embrace that change through an overhaul of your college course development approach.

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