How is ASU reaching the new normal student?

Via eCampus News

As emerging technologies threaten traditional roles and create a demand for new types of skilled workers, the challenge grows for those already in the workforce. By 2020, 65 percent of all jobs will require postsecondary education and training beyond high school. Those with fewer qualifications will find themselves struggling against significantly more barriers to successful careers while employers will continue to deal with workforce shortages.

Read on to hear University Dean for Educational Initiatives and CEO of EdPlus at ASU Phil Regier’s perspective, as he explores how degree specializations and new technology allow ASU to meet students where they are.

Q: How does ASU Online meet the needs of today’s student?
One thing we know for certain is that we cannot address this need by solely focusing on the traditional pool of undergraduate and masters-level students. The profile of today’s college student has changed, with fewer students fitting the mold of “traditional”. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 62 percent of undergraduate students, described as the “New Normal,” have at least one nontraditional characteristic such as being a first-generation student, having at least one dependent, or working either full or part-time. We, as leaders in higher education modeling and delivery, must foster flexible structures that expand access to higher education for the 31 million Americans who have some college credit but no degree. At Arizona State University, we’re exploring new pathways to reach the changing demographics of today’s students.  

Q. How is online learning increasing access to education?
Online learning has become a promising pathway allowing for greater scale where students can design a path that fits their lifestyle. A recent study found that the number of students taking online courses grew to over 6.3 million students in the U.S., and that number continues to rise. At ASU Online, we recognize that the demographics of adult learners are diverse, and we are reaching out to previously underserved populations of learners with programs that do not require presence inside a classroom or at a particular time. Our programs continue to see significant growth with more than 35,000 students enrolled in more than 170 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.

With more degree specializations now available as we scale and expand to meet the evolving needs of students. Virtual reality tools enabling completion of lab sciences courses and adaptive learning technologies are changing the way faculty and instructional designers create courses. Research arms like The Action Lab, a dedicated teaching and learning laboratory within EdPlus at ASU, are studying the impact of these tools on student success to achieve better learning outcomes.

Q. How is ASU Online ensuring student succeed?
Many online students are stepping back into school after several years and need personalized resources and support to help them succeed. From a strong faculty support network to student success coaches and career advisors, universities that are providing high-touch services throughout a student’s educational journey see the best student outcomes.

The ASU Online Student Success Center pairs each student with a personal success coach. They help to identify early warning signs and can quickly step in to provide support. Success coaches are a lifeline as these learners juggle life with studying and coursework. By proactively reaching out to students, based on specific behaviors and academic triggers observed in the digital classroom, our success coaches can quickly assist in overcoming obstacles and work to ensure online students stay on the path to graduation.

Q. How is ASU Online impacting future workforce needs?
Creating new pathways to higher education through online learning is crucial to filling the demand for qualified workers. More than ever, individuals are looking to upskill or re-career and many believe that college is not available to them because it is unaffordable or because of prior academic performance.
Online learning allows universities to meet new normal students where they are, both academically and personally with more degree specializations, new learning technologies, data analytics and high touch support so that each learner can complete a degree in a way that before was simply not possible.

At ASU, we’re working with partners such as Starbucks to build a highly educated workforce–qualified for future jobs we cannot even envision now. Together with Starbucks, ASU offers the Starbucks College Achievement Plan to all eligible Starbucks employees to earn their bachelor’s degree online with full tuition reimbursement by Starbucks. We hope to graduate 25,000 Starbucks employees by 2025. To help reach this goal, and to make a college degree possible for Starbucks employees who are not currently academically admissible to ASU, we offer a Pathway to Admissions program. Through this program, Starbucks employees can access online courses through our Global Freshman Academy and if they meet academic standards to prove they can succeed in university courses, they are admitted to ASU and the Starbucks College Achievement Plan.

Responses in this article have been summarized from an eCampus News piece, 3 Ways ASU Is Reaching the “New Normal” Student. Read the original interview in eCampus News.


Georgetown University
Office of Educational Technology
National Student Clearinghouse
Babson Survey Research Group

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