B. Barrett

American Public University (UNITED STATES)
While world economics change and technology increases opportunities, there is a stronger need for universities to offer more “real world” learning opportunities and applications in order for their students to compete in the global environment. While many educational institutions place an emphasis on the educational process, sometimes they need to reevaluate how they create and delivery learning opportunities for their students. This presentation will focus on how one virtual university has changed their approach to student learning and embraced online learning technology and moved toward student-centered learning. Knowles (1980) noted that “adult [learners] see education as a process of developing increased competence to achieve their full potential in life. They want to be able to apply whatever knowledge and skill they gain today to life more effective tomorrow.” Thus, this raises the question of whether our educational institutions are offering enough learning opportunities to help satisfy the needs of the adult learner, as well as meeting the growing workforce needs of society’s business needs. Further, are adults returning back to education in order to meet short-term versus long-term needs and wants?

This presentation will examine how one virtual university has addressed the learning needs of today’s working adults, provided additional skills training for workforce needs, and enable adult learners with skills and training to prepare for lifelong learning events and career plans. While many universities focus on meeting the intended curriculum needs, some schools focus on the current curriculum and addressing future skills and educational needs of their adult learners. One way virtual universities can address both areas is by developing learning applications that address current learning objectives, but also focus on learning activities that can link classroom learning to real world applications.

As more schools start to examine their course offerings, this presentation will focus on how one virtual university has started to redesign their graduate business courses to offer more real world learning and help their adult learners to gain value through their learning and participation. In particular, this presentation will showcase how the Global Management course has changed their final project from a research-based paper to an applications-based activity where the learner develops more ownership and value with this learning endeavor. In this approach, the learner is given an overview of the global management approach, then the student will be asked to participate in a project-based activity to open an overseas location of a selected company. The student will need to research and create a business proposal on how to select an overseas location, find the proper office location, equip the location with equipment/technology, and staff the office. In particular, the student will have to explore and examine how we can help workers transit over to the new location as expatriates and find ways to ensure their success in an overseas location. While not all graduate projects are as focused, this university has found that more adult learners tend to become more personally involved in the project as they can see the project as a stepping stone to potential career success and development.