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Northern Arizona U to Launch Competency-based Distance Learning Program

Starting January 2013, Northern Arizona University (NAU) will offer a new distance learning program aimed at adults with work and life experience. The program, funded by a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and offered through NAU's Personalized Learning Division, will include 90 online competency-based courses.

NAU's new initiative is designed to allow students to "jump start certain bachelor’s degree programs by pre-testing to determine what they already know, allowing them to receive credits for prior learning and experience," according to information released this week by education resource provider Pearson. NAU's self-paced online program includes mentoring from faculty, plus frequent assessments, to track progress and identify areas where a student may need assistance. Faculty mentors, who specialize in the student's area of study, create customized plans for students using data gleaned from the assessments and other inputs.

"With Personalized Learning, we are opening a new era in academic instruction at Northern Arizona University," said Dr. John Haeger, president of Northern Arizona University, in a prepared statement. "This program is a huge step toward transforming our institution through technology."

NAU will launch the program with three majors including Computer Information Technology, Business Administration (with a specialization in small business), and Liberal Studies. NAU is working with Pearson to develop the courses, which will be delivered through Pearson's LearningStudio platform. Course modules, designed to fulfill degree program requirements, will include readiness assessment and remediation, plus data analytics to monitor student progress.

About the Author

Kanoe Namahoe is online editor for 1105 Media's Education Group. She can be reached at knamahoe@1105media.com.

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