A Digital Facelift for Online Learning

With ever-changing and rapidly growing technology, it’s no surprise schools are kicking into high gear to stay current with technology trends and appealing and modern layouts. The University of Phoenix has done just this, recently revamping its layout and learning platforms to appeal more to the college student’s eye. About two years ago, leaders of the school decided to scratch their outdated software that heads the college’s online learning environment and build a new one. With a team of more than 100 tech-savvy people put together in the San Francisco area, the university gave itself a facelift, according to an article posted in The Chronicle of HIgher Education.

The team, hired from heavyweight tech companies such as Google and Yahoo, were given free reign to create the learning environment for the school, as well as to create a platform that registers and gathers the interactions, messages, and interests of students and their professors. The social network that was created, which heavily resembles the concepts and models of Facebook, profiles the online behavior of students to personalize how they are taught and how they are learning, the article states. The platform, which is aimed at better responding to student needs by allowing them to interact online whenever they need to, is to be put in motion sometime this year. But with social interaction in school, the obvious question arises – can social networks really be used for educational purposes?

The University of Phoenix has been quick to defend itself and to back up its new system with some hard facts. For starters, the software has a built-in audience of about 440,000 students so that it can accommodate mass groups of users, making it less restrictive than other programs universities may use, such as Blackboard. When students log in to the program, they will see lists of recommended tasks for the day and a discussion feed, as well as be able to see other students and professors that are online to initiate a chat, should students feel the need to do so. The goal of the chat is to allow students to contact students and other professors online that may be able to help them learn.

Even if your specific professors aren’t online, you can ask some of the hundreds of other faculty members that are online who teach the same courses for help. When students log in and go to their course pages, they are able to view their course work and content divided into groups for easy viewing and understanding. With the recommended learning activities that the software suggests and provides for students individually, students will be able to learn and interact based on their actions within the program and will get help where they seem to be struggling.

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