Thursday, October 16, 2014

Putting the Students in Control

At OC@KU, we fully understand that learners want choices — among programs, pedagogical modalities, degrees, and price. People want to make up their own minds about these things, which is why we allow them to take control of their education.

The OC@KU approach to learning and degrees emphasizes that learners can move themselves towards reaching their personal, academic, and career goals. By documenting what they have learned from work and life experiences and by taking course assessments, learners can turn their lives into college credit

Starting with our flagship program, the Bachelor of Science in Professional Studies (BSPR), learners who choose to pursue a degree from OC@KU will enjoy the benefits of a very affordable, very personal, and very flexible degree program, allowing the learner to set the pace:

  • Affordable: With a low monthly subscription fee, learners can avoid financial aid debt by enrolling in this program.
  • Personal: Learners begin their journeys by completing an Individualized Learning Plan (ILP), which allows them to set an academic path towards reaching their goals.
  • Flexible: OC@KU boasts a self-paced, fully online format that allows learners to maximize credits from all sources of experiential learning, while providing access to MOOCs for free, high-quality content.

 In my mind, while this is not the only way for a college or a degree program to operate, it does exemplify several characteristics which are fundamentally important in the era we are entering. First, it retains academic rigor and quality through personalized advising and excellent assessment. Second, it puts the learners first, in terms of what they do, when they do it, why they do it, and for how long. Finally, it helps the learners define their current status and future aspirations, giving them the tools and the information needed to determine their own paths. From there we help them travel the path selected.

Our message is simple: It’s your future; we’re here to help you get from where you are to where you want to go.

Friday, October 3, 2014

The OC@KU Difference

We know from Dr. Allen Tough’s research — first published in his seminal book, The Adult’s Learning Projects (Toronto, Canada, OISE, 1971) — that adults learn continuously throughout their lives. In fact, the average adult learner conducts between 8 and 10 such projects each year, committing over 700 hours to these cumulative efforts.  But in the 1960’s, when Tough began his research, we were pre-Xerox machine, let alone the cloud and tablets. So these adult learners were left with precious few resources – libraries, books, friends, experts, clubs, etc. – to achieve their learning goals.

Today, as we dream about how to support, value, enhance, and bring this informal “personal” learning to the surface, we have the extraordinary resources of the internet and cloud-based data.

With this in mind, as we brainstormed the setup of the “free and open” space in our college (OC@KU), we asked the following questions.

1.       What would a learning model look like if college were placed not as a required passage to your future, designed to interpret aspirations and require solutions for the learner, but instead as a collaborator that clarified and supported the learner’s needs and desires?
2.       What would the learning model look like if certificates and degrees were not the raison d’etre, unless required by professional standards or the law?
3.       What would college look like if learners could use existing resources to understand learning requirements and design their own pathways?

Based on the answers to these questions, we decided that our space for informal but organized learning will feature several resources, including
·         Access to free open courses
·         An electronic portfolio where evidence of all kinds of prior learning can be submitted for review for college credit (LRC100: Documenting Your Experiences for College Credit)
·         Services which allow learners to refine their thinking about careers and academic goals, while better understanding their behavioral characteristics and cross-cutting intellectual abilities (Career Journey)

We want to help learners make sense out of their lives, frame their questions about career and education, and get good answers to those questions as they design a path forward.

For some learners, these services will fulfill all of their educational needs. However, others will want to use OC@KU to gain access to degree programs. And one such option will be the topic of my next blog entry.