With first-generation learners, it is critical to connect with them personally, customize the learning to their needs, offer unwavering support, and respect their personal story and the learning that comes with it.Thats from Inside Higher Ed's interview with Peter Smith, senior vice president for academic strategies and development at Kaplan Higher Education, and it's the kind of commitment that will always get my attention.
I'll admit that I was predisposed not to expect that sort of thinking from "one of the largest for-profit providers of postsecondary education in the United States," as the organization describes itself here. But Smith backs it up in the interview with thinking specific to Kaplan's strategy, including this:
At Kaplan Higher Education, we do have some fairly traditional practices, but we also have the capacity to innovate, develop, and continuously improve. For instance, if we want to implement diagnostics in the post-enrollment process, we can do so and then evaluate, refine, and improve our processes. The traditional model lacks this type of nimbleness and flexibility. Without the constraints inherent in the traditional model, we can model emerging best practices, help define them and, in effect, help lead the change we seek.And also:
Students are rarely asked, in depth, what they want from their college education and are almost never engaged in an ongoing conversation about it with someone who can affect their higher education experience. Until institutions personally connect the learner with the curriculum and the college experience, the learner is vulnerable. And the “at risk” learner is always more vulnerable.Yes, the full interview is worth a read.