It's Personal(ized): A New Trend in Online Learning

Personalized learning aspires to a more holistic approach to online learning and may become an education game-changer.

woman getting her education online

Personalized learning has the potential to be a game-changer in the online education world.

With the perks of an online degree program—flexibility and affordability— the method of "personalized learning" goes one step further by basing a student's course work on their existing knowledge and studying pace.

Online degree programs have long offered schedule flexibility, but many still require students to complete the same curriculum, within the same semester schedule, as a traditional program.

Personalized learning programs use technology to let students complete modules at their own speed and get assistance from several sources. 

What is Personalized Learning?

A growing trend in online education, personalized learning lets students carve out their own educational path. While traditional online programs and personalized learning share some similarities, there are some important differences. Key characteristics include:

  • Competency-based
  • Students learn at their own pace
  • Courses usually begin any day of the year
  • Computerized tutor and faculty assistance
  • Shorter time to completion
  • Measurable learning objectives
  • More affordable tuition
  • Previous experience or training is taken into consideration

The degree programs offer all students the same curriculum, but you can test out of lessons when you have previous applicable background or education. On the other side, some personalized learning programs provide free developmental modules to fulfill gaps in their knowledge before being admitted to the program. 

Other Aspects of Personalized Learning

As technology advances, these programs are able to keep track of a student's learning experience and study behavior and offer the following:

  • Computerized "tutor" to assist with problems
  • Faculty members who contact a student to provide assistance

As a student progresses through the course work, data is collected and the program anticipates a student's weak spots in upcoming lessons. Additional help is then provided.

Other programs offer classes based on information in a student's profile, such as a work schedule. By doing this, a student doesn't have to slog through a course catalog or find out a class is full. 

Types of Degrees

Personalized learning is still a new part of the online education arena, so degree programs aren't very plentiful yet. There are a few bachelor's degree programs available with a several concentrations, such as liberal arts. Other programs offer college-level courses, such as biology, that aren't necessarily part of an entire degree program.

When you complete your personalized learning program—which usually culminates with a final exam—you'll earn the same degree as students who attended classes in a traditional classroom. As always, you want to ensure the program and school you choose is accredited by relevant organizations.

What's Next?

Although personalized learning is a fairly new concept, students stand to benefit from this branch of online education. Not only will school cost less, you'll spend less time on courses you don't need and more time focusing on where it counts.

Personalized learning isn't without its critics, but further research is being conducted to determine the effectiveness of these programs.