Shift to student-centred learning

THROUGHOUT 2016, we saw a global shift from personalised learning to student-centred learning.

It’s true that students have always demanded an always-on, anytime, anywhere learning experience, delivered by modern learning tools. However, this time we also witnessed an increasing demand from students for a more autonomous, self-directed learning experience.

A recent survey by Canvas highlighted this growing trend as a foundation for working life. The research, which surveyed 500 undergraduates from both public and private universities, found that 65% of students indicated that their university courses play a vital role in increasing their chances of employment, yet only 25% say they’re equipped with the necessary skills required for employment.

Universities took notice of this in 2016 and have begun the evolution process, spurred by the demands on their well-informed students.

Already, 42% of students say that they have fast broadband access to support video interaction with tutors, and 41% say that they have access to Learning Management Systems (LMS), which enable collaborative problem solving and self-directed learning, all crucial in establishing a student-centred learning environment.

Just three months into 2017, there’s already a bigger demand for student-centred learning, spurred by four digitally driven educational disruptions: analytics, open technologies, 24/7 access to course materials and preparatory education.

These four trends are forcing academic institutions to re-evaluate the services they offer, with a focus on enhancing the student experience.

Over the years, we have seen education institutions embrace data to demonstrate student achievement through pass rates or grades, and it was easy to find education leaders who dismissed the industrial use of data analytics in education.

Today, we’ve come full circle, with the education industry broadly embracing data-based decision making and research-based practice. In Malaysia, the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation has been championing the nation’s big data and analytics (BDA) initiatives, with aspirations of making Malaysia the leading BDA solutions hub in Southeast Asia.

It’s no wonder we see more industries and sectors adopting analytics-based modelling within the country. The education industry is no exception, using real-time data to inform changes in teaching methods and address student needs as they arise.

This can help increase student engagement and motivation, all hugely important in ensuring continuation rates and, ultimately, improving results and grades. Technology experts are united in the view that schools and colleges can reap the same benefits of cloud services and open application programming interfaces (APIs) as their counterparts in commercial industries. Open APIs allow educators to easily choose applications and resources that best fit their students’ needs.

Malaysia is on the right track, with its higher education ministry offering over 60 open online courses within 20 of its public universities.

This year, we will continue to see educators embrace open technology and move away from proprietary models and products created by a handful of developers to ones built by communities of thousands.

With students calling for always-on access to course materials, more institutions will demand improved availability from their technology partners.

Cloud computing continues to be at the core of this evolution, helping unleash the next wave of tech-enabled innovation in schools by enabling educators to change the way courses are delivered to a new generation of tech-savvy, social students.

In 2016, 41% of Malaysia university students say their number one educational experience is having an always-on learning experience that enables access to learning materials, anytime, anywhere, on any device.

A further 52% of students believe their universities are providing them with modern technology and teaching that delivers a personalised learning experience, and 77% of undergraduates say the teaching methods experienced at universities are more in tune with their learning styles than those experienced at school, and are all delivered through the cloud.

2017 will be no different, and will see an increase in always-on settings, as education institutions continue to provide student-centred learning environments that are conducive preparatory platforms for today’s workforce.

Global research by Canvas showed that just 10 percent of students believe that their education adequately prepares them for the workplace.

Pressure from students, combined with an increasing need for institutions to demonstrate the return on investment from education, will put renewed focus on employability.

With Malaysia already in its final haul in achieving its aspirations of being a developed, high-income nation by 2020, higher education institutions particularly must adapt or die, demonstrating their value by fuelling the economy with graduates primed to succeed at work.

  • The writer is vice president, Asia-Pacific for Canvas, Instructure.

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