Personalized Learning and Online Instruction

Personalized Learning and Online Instruction

Louis Svenningsen (University of Manitoba, Canada), Steven Bottomley (Curtin University, Australia) and Joseph J. Pear (University of Manitoba, Canada)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-3940-7.ch008
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This development of digital inclusion with personalized learning has had an impact on how courses are designed and delivered. To that end, a behavioral approach that combines digital with personalized learning is CAPSI (computer-aided personalized system of instruction). In CAPSI, students decide when and where to study course material and where and when to take a test on their learning. The changes occurring in higher education also need to incorporate the development of critical thinking skills. CAPSI is highly adaptable to developing critical or higher-level thinking based on Bloom's taxonomy; CAPSI's emphasis on written answers, providing feedback, and writing appeals leads to higher order thinking. To assess student satisfaction, questionnaires given at the end of a course show that many students find CAPSI to be beneficial to their learning. Also, due to its flexible design, CAPSI is highly modifiable and can be used in all courses in a variety of locations and with students at different educational levels.
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The current demographic on university campuses includes students who are trying to maintain a full course load yet for personal reasons have limited opportunities to be on campus and attend lectures (Ausburn, 2004; Chickering & Kytle, 1999; Concannon, Flynn, & Campbell, 2005). The challenge for students in this situation is that the design for promoting learning and independent thinking in higher education has remained relatively unchanged since the Middle Ages when universities first began: an instructor in a classroom lecturing to a group – sometimes a very large group – of students (Brothen & Wambach, 1998; Levy, 2004).

Digital or online learning offers a promising alternative for students by reducing the need to attend hours of in-class lectures each week while providing the opportunity to be part of a learning community in a face-to-face classroom (Garrison & Kanuka, 2004). This development of digital inclusion – i.e., providing access to digital technology to individuals at every level in all walks of life – has had an impact on how course content is delivered, leading in higher education to a re-thinking of the traditional learning model that includes integrating digital technology with personalized learning (Dzubian, Hartman, & Moskal. 2004). The term “personalized learning” can refer to several things. It can refer to teaching that is specifically tailored to the immediate learning needs of an individual, as in tutoring. Alternatively, it can refer to a system that contains the flexibility to adjust to the learning needs of the individual student, which is the approach emphasized in this chapter. This may seem like a subtle distinction, but it is an extremely important one.

Digital technology can enhance personalized learning. A step toward a system that promotes personalized learning occurs when technology-based online learning activities are combined with in-class instruction. This approach maintains flexibility and convenience in a manner that most effectively improves student learning (Akkoyunlu & Yılmaz-Soylu, 2008; Ben-Jacob, 1999; Dzubian, et. al, 2004; Garrison & Kanuka, 2007; Lim, Morris, & Kupritz 2006; Osguthorpe & Graham, 2003; Welker & Berardino, 2006). This combination of technology with in-class instruction, which is known as blended learning (Carr-Chellman & Duchastel, 2001; Concannon et al., 2005; Merisotis, 2001; Svenningsen & Pear, 2011), is a method or a group of methods that combines facilitating student learning through direct instruction with opportunities for student self-paced learning (Akkoyunlu & Yılmaz-Soylu, 2008; Alonso et al., 2005; Osguthorpe & Graham, 2003). Essentially, it is a natural extension of traditional classroom learning that offers increased flexibility for both students and instructors (Matheos, Daniel, & McCalla, 2006).

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