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Can Higher Education Truly Be Individualized? 3 Universities Weigh In

Individualized education is a concept that has been gaining traction in recent years, and for good reason. A form of flexible learning, individualized education recognizes that every student has unique learning needs, strengths, and challenges, and aims to tailor educational experiences to meet those individual needs. In a higher education setting, individualized education can take many forms, from customized degree programs to personalized advising and mentoring.

At our 2022 EMEA Panopto User Conference, three universities shared their thoughts on individualized education and how faculty and staff are delivering a more personalized classroom experience.


Giving Students a Choice with Individualized Education

Individualized education allows students to take ownership of their learning. Instead of simply following a prescribed curriculum, students are empowered to design their own learning path based on their unique interests, goals, and learning style. Students have the opportunity to choose their own experience – some may take longer on certain lessons or concepts, while others could skip through a lesson. 

Dr. Michele Milner shares that at the Royal Veterinary College in London, England, faculty and staff are beginning to consider opportunities that offer students more choice in their learning environment and how they might help guide students down the best path for their needs. 

“I think there may be more to consider when personalizing in terms of learners being aware of their way of learning and how they interact with the course materials,” Milner says. “So sometimes, when we think about personalizing, we think about it from the perspective of the course and the content. But if you actually flip that around and think about how we may make our learners more aware of how they can interact with the course material in their own way that benefits them? I think there’s where there are an awful lot of opportunities.” 

This approach can be particularly effective for students who struggle in traditional learning environments. By providing a customized learning experience, students are more likely to stay engaged and motivated, leading to improved academic performance and higher levels of satisfaction.


Individualized Education Encourages an Inclusive Learning Environment

Another advantage of individualized education is that it can help create a more inclusive learning environment. By recognizing and accommodating the diverse needs of all students, individualized education can help to break down barriers to learning and create a more equitable system.

For example, at the University of Venice in Italy, Marco Simeoni shares that instructors are using Panopto’s multi-stream recording capabilities to add sign language interpretation feeds into new and existing learning videos.

Another example is when students with disabilities or learning differences may require accommodations such as extended time on exams or specialized tutoring. In an individualized education setting, these accommodations can be built into the student’s learning plan from the beginning, ensuring that they have the support they need to succeed.


Individualized Education Requires Continuous Analysis

Implementing individualized education in a higher education setting is not without its challenges. Individualized education is, by definition, always evolving. One of the biggest obstacles is ensuring that students continue to receive the same quality of education, regardless of their individual learning path.

To address this challenge, colleges and universities can implement a system of assessment and evaluation to ensure that all students are meeting the same learning outcomes, regardless of their individualized path. These assessments can be as simple as a survey to gather student feedback to a rigorous analysis which can include learning analytics.

At the University of Wolverhampton in England, Gemma Witton shares how they did exactly this. Faculty, staff, and students were invited to give feedback through surveys, digital insights, and discussions to discover what was working. “We’ve rewritten our learning and teaching principals [in response to the feedback] to be very blended and just focused on giving our students more of what they want,” she says.


Video: A Partner in Individualized Education Opportunities

Video learning technology has transformed student journeys, allowing them to learn at their own pace, receive instant feedback, and access a range of digital content. Educators can use video to tailor their teaching methods and materials to the individual needs of each student, enabling them to progress more rapidly and effectively. Additionally, video has made it easier for students to connect with educators and peers remotely, regardless of their geographical location.

Institutions such as the Royal Veterinary College, University of Venice, and University of Wolverhampton use Panopto to create experiences where students can learn at their own pace, pause and replay learning videos as needed, and receive instant feedback on their progress, helping them stay engaged and motivated, and ultimately achieve better learning outcomes. Plus, with robust analytics, faculty and staff have the opportunity to dig deeper into student assessments and understanding, allowing insight into areas that may need deeper exploration.

Individualized education has the potential to revolutionize higher education by providing a more personalized and inclusive learning experience. By recognizing and accommodating the diverse needs of all students, colleges and universities can create a more equitable and effective system that better prepares students for success in the workforce and in life.



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