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The CITE, a blog published by the National Association of College Stores, takes a look at the intersection of education and technology, highlighting issues that range from course materials to learning delivery to the student experience. Comments, discussion, feedback, and ideas are welcome.


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

New Approach to Higher Education

There has been plenty of discussion about the future of higher education. Flipped classrooms, competency-based education, team-based learning, collaborative education, and problem-based learning all have proponents who see their format of choice as the best way to proceed.

However, campuses continue to use the same term-based and credit hour-based formats that have been in place for generations. Most institutions also continue to offer lecture-based courses where progress is determined by midterm and final exams.

The University of Texas System is ready to try something new. It is launching a format that include career-aligned and personalized courses to attract new students who are looking for a different way to study and earn a degree, according to Steven Mintz, professor of history at UT-Austin and executive director of the system’s Institute for Transformational Learning.

“Too often, a single model is deemed the solution to higher education’s challenges: high costs, deficient student engagement, or unsatisfactory graduation rates,” Mintz wrote in a blog post for Inside Higher Education. “Instead of embracing a single solution, instructors might consider implementing differentiated paths to a degree. Students, then, might choose the path that best reflects their needs and aspirations.”

The UT programs will not replace current curriculum, but will emphasize career skills. Students will receive a traditional transcript with grades as well as a competency-based transcript that highlights the skills and knowledge the student has mastered.

“Given the diversity in student circumstances, goals, and motivation, a differentiated approach makes sense,” Mintz wrote. “Personalization is the watchword of the contemporary consumer economy, and this principle might be applied to postsecondary education as well.”

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