Dixie Darr

In creativity, Learning on October 3, 2008 at 5:56 pm

Individualized Learning

If you read my previous post about my difficulties in communicating with Western Governors University, you might well wonder why I’m still interested in finding out more about it. Three words: competency-based learning. Students earn their degrees by demonstrating skills and knowledge instead of by taking required courses. Working independently with a mentor, students develop personalized action plans and complete their programs in their own time.

Quite simply, this is the way I think all education should be designed. I’m not alone.

John Medina, brain researcher and author of Brain Rules has found that “Every student’s brain . . . is wired differently. That’s The Brain Rule. You can either accede to it or ignore it. The current system of education chooses the latter, to our detriment. It needs to be torn down and newly envisioned, in a Manhattan Project-size commitment to individualizing instruction.”

Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen applied his theory of disruptive innovation to education in his recent book, Disrupting Class. He touts computer-based learning as a significant development because it is

· Convenient and mobile

· Customizable for each student’s preferred learning style

· Flexible in allowing a student to move through the material at any pace

· More affordable than traditional education.

Western Governors University is currently the only accredited university in the U.S. offering competency-based, online degrees. That’s why I want to find a way to be a part of it.

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