Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
Education

Taking A Cue From K-12, National University Launches Precision Institute

A banner advertises National University's Precision Institute, July 19, 2017.
Megan Burks
A banner advertises National University's Precision Institute, July 19, 2017.
Taking A Cue From K-12, National University Launches Precision Institute
National University announced a $20 million initiative Wednesday aimed at taking personalized learning from K-12 classrooms to the lecture hall.

Something called personalized learning is catching on in K-12 classrooms. The idea is that, with help from technology, teachers no longer have to teach to the middle — students at the top and bottom of their class can move at their own pace.

But the concept has not quite caught on in the lecture halls of colleges and universities.

Advertisement

“We historically treated them all the same. We put them in a fixed set of classes and they all get the material in the same way,” said National University President David Andrews. “Now, we’re learning that students respond to the material, they respond to the out-of-classroom support, in very different ways.”

That is why National University announced Wednesday a $20 million initiative called Precision Education. Its goal is to bring personalized learning to higher education.

The university plans to work with its faculty, scholars at other institutions, and local and national tech firms to develop and research tools and teaching strategies that help professors tailor their classes to individual students.

The La Jolla-based university is also building relationships with its healthcare industry neighbors to take lessons from precision medicine.

“Even in medicine we’ve thought for years you have an infection, you get an antibiotic and the antibiotic tends to work for everyone. Now we’re finding there are individual responses for patients to different types of interventions and treatments,” Andrews said. “Same thing in education. Students are responding to interventions and instructional opportunities very differently to one another, so it’s not a one-size-fits-all.”

Advertisement

Some K-12 charter schools are already using a personalized learning platform developed by Facebook. It allows teachers to upload web-based curriculum and formative assessments — low-stakes quizzes that help teachers assess a student’s grasp of the material — so they can track each student more closely and focus their attention and class time where it matters. Advanced students who may have gotten bored in the past can move ahead; students who are farther behind can work independently but still participate in class projects and discussions.

National is already working with its faculty to break curriculum down into chunks that could work on a similar platform. It will pilot various strategies in 20 general education courses over the next academic year.