The Impact of Personalized Learning on Low income and Underserved Post Secondary Students: Strategies for Expanding Educational Access From Early Innovators

Concurrent Session 8
Streamed Session

Watch This Session

Brief Abstract

Many underserved postsecondary students are balancing jobs, families and other priorities – often impeding their ability to complete their degree. Personalized learning can improve learning outcomes – but how can institutions make it accessible to all students? This panel will discuss strategies and best practices for implementing personalized learning at scale.


Eric is passionate about finding ways to pair great teachers and smart technology to help every student realize their fullest potential. He has worked in executive roles at Cengage and Pearson and was co-founder and President of Flat World Knowledge, the world’s first commercial higher education open textbook publishing company. Flat World Knowledge raised over $30 million in venture capital and has over 3,000 faculty and 500,000 student users. Eric is a frequent speaker on innovation in education, and his work to make education more accessible and affordable while maintaining quality has been widely covered in media outlets including the New York Times, Wired, US News & World Report, Fast Company, NPR, Time, and others. Eric is an advisor to the non-profit Center for Education Technology in Tel-Aviv.
Stephanie is one of the principle designers of NLU's Pathways program, which is an affordable and adaptive undergraduate program that provides comprehensive, personalized support for students of any socioeconomic status. Stephanie has worked at NLU for ten years in many areas of the University. She is the Associate Dean of Pathways and General Education. She has also designed and implemented the B.A. in Applied Communications program launched in 2013. Prior to coming to NLU, Stephanie taught English and Senior Studies at the high school level and served as the Director of Online Learning in District 204, often serving populations of high-need and minority students. She has taught and developed courses at a variety if universities, including Charter Oak State College, which was one of the first colleges to utilize a competency-based learning model. Stephanie is a mom, a Cubs fan and lover of high heels. Before teaching, Stephanie was a Senior Broadcast Producer at Ogilvy and Mather in Chicago and worked with clients around the world. Stephanie holds an Ed.S. in Educational Leadership and a Master of Arts in Teaching from National Louis University, and a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from the University of Iowa.

Extended Abstract

Low income and underserved postsecondary students are balancing jobs, families and other priorities – often impeding their ability to complete their degree or credential. While studies have shown that personalized learning is one tool that can help students to improve learning outcomes, how can higher education institutions provide access to truly personalized high-quality education at a cost that makes it accessible to all students who seek it? 

Personalized learning platforms enable deep insights and rich analytics that can help institutions improve their ability to serve student populations that have traditionally struggled in academic settings. Additionally, the right personalized learning platform can become the foundation for developing new institutional capacity for developing, delivering and continuously improving high quality adaptive curricula. The session will detail the challenges and opportunities for implementing personalized learning programs at scale using the experience and journey of two innovative higher ed institutions serving largely minority student populations.

This session will be an interactive panel discussion of experts sharing strategies and best practices from the field.  Participants will incorporate research, case studies and audience participation in the discussion. Each participant will also field questions from the audience at the end of the discussion.


1.     Participants will understand how innovative institutions are using personalized learning platforms and analytics to expand access and better serve low income and minority students.

2.     Participants will have an understanding of challenges, critical success factors, of implementing adaptive curricula to achieve a personalized learning program.

3.     Participants will gain insight into strategies and best practices of implementing personalized learning at scale.


  • Enabling the Data-Driven Decision-Making Environment
  • Transforming the Student Experience