Rethinking Personalized Learning in Next Generation Courseware

Concurrent Session 5

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

To "personalize" learning, we must rethink learning design, pedagogy, content delivery, metacognition and learner-instructor relationships. Explore next generation digital courseware that applies this approach.


Kelly Gillerlain, PhD., MBA, is the Interim Dean of Business, Information Technology & Public Services and a program head for business, marketing, finance and real estate on the Chesapeake, VA campus of Tidewater Community College (TCC) with a student population of over 40,000 students. As the faculty lead on the Gates Foundation "Next Generation Courseware Challenge", she is responsible for ensuring compliance and faculty support in the roll out of four courses using Open Educational Resources (OER). Gillerlain is also a subject matter adviser for the Principles of Marketing course being developed for a spring 2016 pilot. With a PhD in Organizational Leadership with a concentration in Human Resource Development, her research includes the study of leader self-development, competency-based learning, and the effect OER has on student success.
Julie Curtis is vice president of strategy and communications for Lumen Learning, where she evangelizes the use of open educational resources to improve education affordability, access and student success. Working in higher education technology for more than a decade, Julie has led initiatives around strategic collaboration, thought leadership, new product introduction, marketing research and strategic communications. Julie holds a master’s degree in public policy from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and a Bachelor’s degree in English literature from Brigham Young University.

Extended Abstract

At a time when "personalized learning" is an increasingly hyped topic, this session invites attendees to think more deeply about what's happening in the educational experience to make personal connections with individual learners and tailor the learning environment to their needs.

During this session, three collaborators in a Gates Foundation-funded Next Generation Courseware Challenge (NGC) project share their experiences and lessons learned from a 2015-2016 pilot project that rethinks "personalized learning" with an approach that reasserts the "person" at the center of personalized learning. This session offers a show-and-tell about four strategies their project is piloting to reassert the person in personalized learning: 1) creating efficiencies around personalized instruction; 2) using assessments as learning tools; 3) mapping enriched open educational content to personalized learning recommendations; and 4) enhancing student agency and metacognition. Session attendees can see the courseware in action and participate in a collaborative discussion about the efficacy of "personalized learning" in courses and programs.

Dr. Patricia Beckenholdt, Program Chair for Business Administration at UMUC, opens the presentation with a discussion of the promises and pitfalls of "personalized learning" solutions today. S/he explores what makes the notion of "personalized learning" so compelling and common challenges in online and blended learning that create obstacles to making a learner feel their educational experience is truly personalized to their unique needs. She also discusses drivers behind UMUC's decision to pilot a more human-centered approach to the education experience and the impact the institution has achieved to date.

Lumen Learning CEO, Kim Thanos, outlines the vision and research basis for the personalized learning strategies pursued in the product of this collaboration, Waymaker Courseware. Its emphasis on four alternative "personalized learning" strategies helps illuminate promising directions for the future: just-in-time personalized instruction; the use of assessments as learning tools; the ability to map open educational content to personalized study recommendations; and the role of learner agency and metacognition in student success. A brief demonstration invites session participants to see and experience the personalization tools, along with a framework for measuring efficacy around personalized learning strategies.

Tidewater Community College Business Professor, Dr. Kelly Gillerlain, reflects on her experience as a faculty member working to implement the personalized learning strategies and courseware in courses on Introduction to Business and Principles of Marketing. Her presentation shares course structure, tools and activities associated with personalized learning strategies, as well as the net impact on students and herself as an instructor.

Session attendees join the panelists in a collaborative discussion about what efficacy means in "personalized learning" and how to measure it in courses and programs that pursue personalized learning strategies.

Learning Goals:

?Articulate the benefits and challenges of providing a human-centered educational experience
?Identify alternative strategies for approaching "personalized learning"
?Explain a framework for evaluating the efficacy of personalized learning initiatives