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How Education 3.0 Rethinks the Learning Experience

Updated: Apr 14, 2023

Everyone at the university level felt the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic — from faculty burnout, enrollment dropping, and the sudden chaos of figuring out how to scale online programs to an entire student body with little warning. As students return to in-person classes, the holes in learning models revealed by the pandemic are now more prominent than ever. Students became used to learning online (at times asynchronously) but are now expected to go to a physical classroom when they have jobs, children, and other life commitments that online classes made more bearable.

In this blog, let’s dive into what education will look like in a post-pandemic world that provides more student choice and better prepares students for the future by facilitating a fully connected learning experience: Education 3.0.

Education 3.0

What is it?

In our last blog, we explained how Education 3.0 seeks to take the best of both 1.0 and 2.0 to create a fully connected learning experience that puts the needs of the modern learner at the forefront. To expand more on this idea, we launched a webinar series with leaders to discuss this new concept along with our Founder & CEO, Shaunak Roy. In the first episode of the series, Dr. Mark Milliron, president and CEO of National University, describes one aspect of Education 3.0:

“I think now we're probably entering a stage of true 3.0 where people are putting together built-for-purpose education programs that serve the needs of these different kinds of students…It is literally rethinking education and being willing to take a step back and say let's look at the personas of the students we're trying to serve.”

Dr. Milliron explains his thoughts on Education 3.0.

Intentional learning design

The reality is colleges will always provide brick-and-mortar classrooms for students who want a traditional learning experience. However, we are entering an era in which universities meet the needs of a wider array of students by constructing “built for purpose” programs, expanding online programs, providing more class options that fit a variety of schedules, and much more. It is going to require being more intentional about designing the learning experience; it should be more than simply a collection of classes required to graduate, but rather a family of experiences that happens to include classes. Here's what creating a cohesive learning experience with intentional learning design could look like in Education 3.0:

  • The learning experience should be compelling. It should engage the learners authentically, relate to their lives, and create a lasting impression for deeper learning.

  • The learning experience should be data-informed. It should be embedded with research-driven pedagogy to self-motivate and activate learners.

  • The learning experience should be connected. It should transform from a collection of courses to a continuous learning experience through community-building across the learner journey.

Student choice at the forefront

Student agency is the priority of Education 3.0. The pandemic revealed that universities can offer a variety of options to fit the needs of students, and Education 3.0 asserts that we can continue providing more learner choice — especially in terms of modality. Non-traditional learners have higher expectations since they were offered the flexibility and accessibility to partake in online classes, and all students now expect a certain amount of personalization of their learning experience.

Reshaping the learning experience

Education 1.0 and 2.0 both emerged from what the world was capable of and what students needed at the time, and Education 3.0 is no different. Although we have recently shifted toward more flexible class offerings and improvements in online infrastructure, the core learning experience remained mostly the same — a one-size-fits-all learning model that doesn’t equal serve every student. Education 3.0 calls for institutions to acknowledge that what they've been providing for decades does not meet the essential needs of modern learners. Embracing innovative technology and pedagogy is critical for making the leap to 3.0.

Meeting the needs of students

Education 3.0 considers the needs of the modern learner as the top priority and recognizes that not all students can or should learn in the exact same way. Universities already recognize the importance of competency-based and mastery-based learning along with shorter, intensive courses to meet the needs of their students. When universities don’t offer students what they need to succeed, they become disengaged from their course work — or worse — don’t finish their degrees at all. Dr. Thomas Cavanagh, the Vice Provost for Digital Learning at UCF, explains how student expectations have shifted in the second episode of the webinar series:

Dr. Cavanagh discusses the change in student expectations.

Social learning is a must

Because we have seen a significant decline in the number of students enrolled in college, we must rethink the way we view education, and part of the solution is to form a community of practice so students can share ideas with one another. In Education 2.0, students were able to collaborate with each other during in-person classes and occasionally on basic online discussion boards. In the new era of Education 3.0, students don’t need a simple discussion board but instead a fully fleshed-out online community in which they can easily learn from each other. This idea is especially important since some students will be taking classes asynchronously and won’t be able to attend in-person classes in the world of Education 3.0.

Social learning elements not only improve the learning experience for students but also cause a larger impact on learning outcomes. Students who have social learning woven into their course design are more likely to experience deeper learning than without it. In this new era of Education 3.0, we can’t ignore the social fabric that enhances a student’s education and leads to holistic learning.

The Outcomes of Education 3.0

Skill and competency-based learning

Learning the ins and outs of your coursework may be important to succeed in your career, but there are also other quantifiable skills that employers look for when hiring candidates that schools may not necessarily teach. In order to create a truly connected learning experience, institutions must create opportunities for students to learn the skills necessary to more easily transition from college to their careers. Programs such as the Indiana Achievement Wallet is a great example of helping learners build relevant skills that employers are looking for and is a key aspect of Education 3.0. One of the purposes of Education 3.0 is to help students easily translate their skills and experiences into the workforce, but it shouldn’t just stop at the transition from college to your career.

A Connected Learning Experience

In the second episode of our Connecting the Learning Experience series, Dr. Thomas Cavanagh, the Vice Provost for Digital Learning at UCF, shares his ideas on the connected learning experience:

“I think the one-and-done learn, you go to college, and you go to work is that's over… I think we're going to have to navigate the work world and a learning world together, which is going to be a connecting challenge…If I'm a phlebotomist in the military and I come out to get a nursing degree…it's tough to say, “Now, go sit through a 16-week course.” Right? It's like how do you get recognized for those skills and then be able to move on so you can actually progress in your learning experience?”

Looking to the future

We need an educational system that endorses intentional learning design, ensures students receive a true social learning experience and considers the needs of students first. Education 3.0 seeks to create a more holistic, connected learning experience to ensure students get the most out of their time at college and their careers.

Want to learn more about Education 3.0? Register for our latest webinar series to hear from industry professionals and their ideas regarding the future of education.

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