Keen to receive the best return for their time and tuition fees, students have increasingly come to expect a personalised learning experience. From their media through to their shopping habits, today’s consumers are accustomed to receiving a range of highly customised digital services and this expectation naturally extends to other areas of life.
After viewing an episode of ‘House of Cards’, for instance, Netflix algorithms will generate further recommendations based on other shows consumed, time between logins, total time spent watching and number of episodes watched before the series is abandoned in favour of another. The result is a unique service specifically tailored to the viewer.
And universities are now following suit with many harnessing the powers of technology to support students in their learning. The increasing use of data analytics in higher education means that students benefit from a more personalised learning experience and can be more quickly identified if struggling or simply in need of additional support.
Some UK universities are looking at how personalising the learning experience through the provision of interactive textbooks correlates with improving learning outcomes and student satisfaction. Students using Kortext etextbooks enjoy access to a 24/7 digital bookshelf while educators are able to monitor rates of access and even identify, at a glance, those who may not be engaged.
Should a student of the ‘on-demand’ generation really need to run to the library at 11pm to borrow a core text? Or make a special trip onto campus for its return? In fact, the act of reserving, borrowing and physically returning textbooks can seem strangely anachronistic to these children of the information age. It can be sobering to consider that many of the students we are educating cannot remember a time before Google and therefore take for granted this instant access to knowledge.
Whether spending the weekend at home in Greece or travelling to a lecture on the train, if students are equipped with etextbook software, they can download a loan to any device from any location. While the information they read will be no different to the printed version, the mobile generation value the flexibility and ease of accessing etextbooks at their own convenience.
Mobile-optimised and intuitive to use, the Kortext digital learning platform also allows students to quickly generate and insert academic citations through its integration with a popular referencing application, as well as cloud-based Microsoft Office 365. This allows students to create a personalised learning repository for their etextbooks, study tools, projects and citations.
Sophie Bailey from the EdTech Podcast affirms
"The term ‘personalised learning’ can be incredibly loaded, but the ubiquity of on-demand services - for music, banking, social - is harder to challenge. Young people have come to expect learning experiences in a way that is instantly accessible and personally relevant."
While some criticise the increasing use of data analytics in higher education, others argue that it simply reflects the self-determined world that our students inhabit. Why should all learners receive the same university experience when the technology exists to personalise it to their needs?