Learning Paths: A Journey to Student Engagement

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Monday, August 15, 2022
By Graham Glass
Photo by Adobe Stock/New Africa
A customized approach to learning brings distinct advantages to today’s business students seeking flexibility and specific skill attainment.

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  • Intelligent systems can help inform individualized paths for students to learn new skills and concepts.
  • With learning paths, the instructor inhabits more of a facilitator role, assisting with identified pain points, rather than a content provider role.
  • Students who complete personalized learning paths become more autonomous and goal-oriented learners over time.

Education technology (edtech) is transforming every aspect of the classroom, from how educators manage their daily activities—like tracking student achievement—to how they deliver learning materials to their students.

Digital tools enhance the teaching and learning experience and can provide a personalized journey for each student. Personalized learning customizes education in response to students’ needs, interests, abilities, background, and goals for the future. Business schools can rely on technology to facilitate the process of scaling personalized learning and ensure that every student receives the tailored attention they need to thrive.

Just like Netflix provides individualized recommendations of movies to watch, an intelligent learning platform provides proactive assistance in the form of classes to enroll in or additional materials to check out. The instructor’s role is to set up the learning paths, configure the automation rules so that students have access to classes and materials appropriate for their goals, and then facilitate the learning process and provide assistance when needed.

How Do Personalized Learning Paths Benefit Students?

Learning paths consist of a sequence of educational materials students need to take to deepen their understanding of a specific topic, hone their skills, and promote lifelong learning. These paths are goal oriented and allow students to move through each section to master a topic.

Personalized learning paths make the process of acquiring new skills and knowledge engaging no matter the student’s background, level of understanding, or preferred learning format (in person or remote). Here are seven key aspects of personalized learning paths that make them ideal for today’s business students.

1. Technology for Digital Natives

Students use technology daily. When deepening their knowledge, they prefer a modern and flexible learning environment. Whether at home or in a physical classroom, they like to have everything in one place and to access it easily.

Learning platforms transform the student experience and can make teaching and learning a smooth process. With features like adaptive learning or gamification, students are immersed in their materials from the start. Each sequence they go through is informed by data collected from their previous activities with the course content. This approach gives students a better understanding of the topic while adapting to their learning preferences.

2. Prioritized Learning Goals 

Using learning goals, students can become more autonomous, tracking their progress through the course as well as different milestones they reach. A big goal becomes more achievable when students can set smaller target points along the way.

For example, suppose a student wants to understand more about a topic such as social entrepreneurship or resource management. They can do that over time by going through different sections of a learning path or taking specific courses related to the goal.

Business students often already know what skills and knowledge they want to gain, so it’s essential for educators to focus on the students’ expectations and help them reach those goals, guided by intelligent systems.

3. Progress Tracking

Learning paths are an excellent way to keep track of each student’s individual progress. Some students might fly through an assignment, while others might get stuck at various points along the way. Both situations are easy to monitor, allowing educators to provide targeted assistance so they can improve the learning experience even more.

If some students find the course content very easy, they can access additional materials to explore and deepen their knowledge. At the same time, if other students are having difficulty comprehending the course content, the educator can step in to help facilitate the learning process.

4. Adaptive Learning Pace

Each student is different, with their own learning goals, preferences, and expectations from a given course. One of the most significant benefits of learning paths is that a particular lesson doesn’t need to be completed within a designated time frame.

Students enrolled in learning paths—many of whom are balancing multiple priorities in their lives—can take classes at their own pace and complete courses in the time frames that work for them. Instead of trying to memorize everything or mindlessly click through the contents of a class, they can review the content as often as they like; thus, learning becomes a more pleasant experience.

5. Balance Between In-Person and Remote Learning

During the pandemic, a lot of learning shifted to an online format. While more and more business schools are returning to in-person classes, many students prefer learning remotely, at least part time. Another advantage to learning paths is that they don’t discriminate between remote students and those who attend in person.

Everyone gets access to high-quality education and a learning environment that is in accordance with their preferences. Using collaboration tools available in a learning management system, students can maintain a sense of community and collaborate in real time with their instructors and peers.

6. Learning Ownership

Modern learning environments are flexible, as they allow students to take an active role in the learning activities and materials they are about to access. Instead of being enrolled in a series of courses and receiving bulky handouts to read, they can talk with their instructors about the skills they’d like to further hone. Instructors and students can work together to develop a learning path and make tweaks to it along the way to get the desired results.

This approach to learning motivates students to be more focused on their goals and collaborate with instructors whenever they get stuck or need extra help.

7. Flexible Learning

Twenty-first-century learning takes many forms, from remote environments to more sophisticated artificial intelligence platforms that make instructors’ work easier and improve the learning experience. Students don’t necessarily need to read a set number of books or write an essay to master a skill.

Watching a video or contributing to a threaded discussion in a forum can count toward students’ goals. After educators string together different materials and actions for students to take during a course, students can begin their learning journeys. Each section of the path promotes tenets of lifelong learning, helping the students find joy in learning and achieve continued success.

Meeting Learners Where They Are

Today’s students don’t expect a cookie-cutter approach to education but a custom learning journey. Each student is different regarding their expectations from a course and the type of content they’d like to explore. Personalized learning paths take all these preferences into account, as well as the student’s learning pace, providing an effective and pleasant educational experience that can benefit them for a lifetime.

CYPHER LEARNING specializes in providing e-learning platforms for organizations around the world. For more insightful articles on edtech, visit the NEO Blog.

Graham Glass
The views expressed by contributors to AACSB Insights do not represent an official position of AACSB, unless clearly stated.
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