What can higher education institutions do to make education more accessible to all types of students?
In today’s marketplace, supporting adult learners is a priority for higher education institutions and further education colleges in particular. Given the need for flexibility in scheduling and financing, conventional classroom settings and assessments based on seat-time often create unnecessary barriers for adults wanting to improve their knowledge, skills, and behaviour. The good news is, there are several ways institutions can use technology to not only meet learners where they are, but to also serve adult students the way they learn best.
A VLE for higher and further education removes the barrier of time
When confronted with the prospect of having to complete a degree over 4 years, some adult learners find themselves having to choose employment and groceries over their education. However, the rewards for earning post-graduate qualifications are quite convincing. A non-secondary school graduate is positioned to earn roughly one quarter the salary of someone with a professional degree – and more than half of someone with a bachelor’s degree. (https://trends.collegeboard.org/education-pays; page 17).
Obviously, working adults and those caring for families work on different schedules than many institutions support. To make education more accommodating and desirable, many institutions offer more flexibility in their program scheduling, program pacing, and payment structures. To support this level of flexibility, responsive institutions are adopting a VLE with a mobile-first design that gives students and lecturers access to content and coursework on any mobile device, any time they are connected to the internet. Such access to content and instruction is a clear benefit and incentive for students with busy schedules.
Students facing economic barriers
Many adult students are considering more affordable education options, but they’re still facing some serious expenses. Depending on the student and program, these can include housing, tuition, books, fees, transportation, parking, childcare, and more. Well-designed online learning programs managed through a VLE cannot only support a variety of flexible learning options, it can also contribute to larger institutional goals tied to increasing retention and graduation rates, as well as cost savings associated with consolidating data and IT systems.
To learn more how higher and further education institutions can reduce barriers for adult learners, download the article entitled, “The art and science of helping adults learn.”