For the last year, humanized learning has been top of mind at many higher education institutions. As I’ve written previously, it is not a new concept. The teaching and learning literature is brimming with resources, ranging from philosophical treatises to practical guides. Historically and currently, most educators and campus leaders use humanized learning to describe instructional practice, specifically faculty attitudes and behaviors proven to foster engaging and productive classroom interactions. For example, instructors dedicated to humanized learning may integrate the following into their learning environments:
Don’t get me wrong—faculty are essential to humanized learning. However, the focus on instructional practice is limiting and ultimately reduces chances for success. By reducing humanized learning to classroom engagement, institutions are:
With these limited definitions in place, it’s easy for campus IT leaders to assume a supporting role in humanized learning—one that is in danger of devolving into a technology checklist. For example:
Regardless of what vendors say, video technologies and collaboration platforms are not silver bullets for humanized learning. Also, consider how instructor-centric this list sounds. Will we truly achieve a learner-centered experience by focusing on instructors and their access to technology?
Rather than focusing on instructor behavior, let’s shift our perspective to consider what students want to experience in their academic and non-academic interactions with their institutions. A more inclusive, learner-centered understanding of humanized learning may look something like this:
These principles are consistent with instructor-centric discussions of humanized learning, but broaden the applicability to include other aspects of the student experience, too.
Today, technology is more embedded into higher education’s everyday practices than ever. Here are some examples of how IT and humanized learning intersect and how campus IT leaders can contribute to the process.
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