"For a university that pioneered distance learning, Northern Arizona
University’s foray into online, self-paced degree programs seems like a
natural fit." continues Arizona Daily Sun.
But on the Mountain Campus and elsewhere, competency-based education uncoupled from the credit hour is raising questions fundamental to higher education: What is a college? What does it mean to be educated at one? And how does a college work to accomplish that goal?
As the host community to a bricks-and-mortar campus of 20,000 students, Flagstaff has a big stake in how those questions shake out. The Internet has proved to be a disruptive technology in many fields, and using its interactivity to eliminate “seat time” in class and semester-long course modules has wide ramifications for a residential college campus.
As we report today on the front page, NAU’s program, called
Most of the initial students in Personalized Learning – there are 390 so far – are older and have had jobs and other life experiences. Instead of paying by the credit hour, students pay a flat rate of $2,500 every six months for as many competencies as they can master. Mentors check in by phone or email on their progress, and subject-matter experts grade papers and tests. By 2020, NAU hopes to have enrolled 8,000 students in Personalized Learning and be generating net revenue by that year of $19 million.
Proportionally speaking, that’s not an insignificant number of students compared with the Mountain Campus. But if these are students who would otherwise not complete a degree, then Personalized Learning would seem to be serving a new and important niche. NAU as a whole struggles to graduate even a majority of its enrollees after six years, so a self-paced degree program free of any residential or credit-hour requirements might help to improve those numbers.
Source: Arizona Daily Sun