Part 2: Reaching part-time and mature learners
As we discussed in part 1 of this series, the right learning management system (LMS) can be instrumental in helping theological educators achieve new levels of learning inclusion by allowing the institution to reach and support every learner and support every learning style. We’ve touched on the young learner, but there are also part-time and mature learners to consider.
Like most post-secondary educational institutions, seminaries understand that full-time study requires significant financial and personal commitment, and for many learners, theological study must be approached part-time. A modern LMS offers part-time learners the ability to work online and use mobile technologies to access learning from a coffee shop or from home in the evening after the kids are put to bed. Personalized learning paths also allow part-time learners to progress through learning content and toward their learning goals at their own pace. Discussion forums help online part-time learners feel connected to their peers and to their instructors and part of the broader learning community. And analytics within the LMS give instructors and program administrators real-time insight into part-time learner activity in order to monitor individual learner progress and broader trends around part-time learner progression, persistence and retention.
The trend toward mature students, defined as individuals who enter or re-enter post-secondary studies after the age of 25, is rising. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, there are 19 million undergraduates enrolled in colleges and universities, and many of them are adults ages 25 and older. North American theological schools certainly see their fair share of mature students, with schools experiencing faster growth rates at both the oldest and youngest ends of the student spectrum. Over the most recent decade, the enrollment of men and women in the MDiv and other master’s programs has increased substantially in the 20s and 50s cohort and fallen for the 35–49 cohort of students. Mature students, like part-time students, need the flexibility offered by a modern LMS. They have to fit education into busy lives, families and other personal obligations. They may need to move through their studies at a personalized pace. And they want to be acknowledged for their professional and earned competencies and experience. A learning platform that supports competency-based education means mature learners can gain credit for previous learning and experience and move more rapidly through topics that are already familiar to them while giving more time to areas that are new.
Interested in learning more about how Brightspace can help you widen participation and reach all types of learners? Visit https://www.d2l.com/your-seminary/.