Competencies are the currency of the new education economy - Students need them, employers want them, and educators help students earn them.
Dara Warn, Chief Outcomes Officer
BOSTON, MA, (February 16, 2017) — Demonstrating its ongoing commitment to learning innovation, Penn Foster Education Group announced today the launch of the Penn Foster Experience (PFx), a competency-based mobile learning platform that integrates self-paced learning and adaptive feedback to allow faculty and administrators to focus on helping students build career-ready skills, and to empower students to manage their online education.
After a successful pilot with 2,500 students, PFx is now available in select Penn Foster programs including Penn Foster High School and new career programs such as Guest Services Agent and Home Health Aide and will roll out to additional students through 2017, including students enrolled via partnerships with employers, organizations and other academic institutions.
"We want our learning platform to meet the needs of today's students and employers by providing an experience that goes far beyond a traditional learning management system," said Bobby Babbrah, chief digital officer, Penn Foster Education Group. "With a laser focus on student outcomes, the new platform leverages data to create granular learning interactions, improve student engagement and provide a personalized learning experience for our on-the-go students. PFx is a cloud-based 'open' platform that enables rapid interoperability with partner organizations to provide a complete outcomes trail from education to employment."
PFx offers innovative instructional design that blends self-paced interactive courses with a multi-layer support system that includes webinars, peer-to-peer discussion, and access to personal success coaches, teaching assistants and expert faculty.
"When we say that 'PFx' stands for the 'Penn Foster Experience,' we declare that as a promise to our students," said Dara Warn, chief outcomes officer, Penn Foster Education Group. "The emphasis is on a superior learning experience for students, providing them confidence in their everyday lives thanks to the skills they develop and the preparation for careers they train for. The platform also enables us to deliver on our promise of outcomes to be employment-centric."
PFx combines content in quality, short bursts on an intuitive, mobile and social platform with "surround sound" support services via email, text, phone and chat to ensure learner success. The goal is to underscore Penn Foster's longstanding commitment to academic integrity with unique instructor insights and an unyielding emphasis on outcomes.
Randall Shorter, a Penn Foster student who participated in testing the platform this summer, said PFx made getting a high school diploma less stressful and more personalized. "Working on getting my high school diploma has been challenging, but the instructions and format make it easy to follow. Plus, it is really helpful that I can do this all on my own time," he said.
About Penn Foster Education Group
Penn Foster Education Group, Inc. is an organization dedicated to developing and acquiring industry leading technologies, tools and resources to support alternative pathways for opportunity youth and adult learners. Focused on enabling education tied to workplace competencies and learner needs, Penn Foster Education Group is at the forefront of design and development of learning platforms and educational content. Penn Foster Education Group is a corporate affiliate of Penn Foster, Inc. which operates three schools -- Penn Foster High School, Penn Foster Career School and Penn Foster College. Learn more at www.pennfostereducationgroup.com or http://partners.pennfoster.edu/.
This was originally published on edtechdigest.wordpress.com.
By Bobby Babbrah
Technology’s impact is often felt immediately by its users but sometimes—especially in education—technology’s innovations do not necessarily take place in “a moment.” Indeed, over a sustained period of time, technology is inexorably transforming the education landscape. This transformation consists of multiple elements, starting with the makeup of the modern millennial learner, continuing to how learning is evolving due to innovations in technology, and finally to how the educational experience will need to be reimagined to adapt to these changes.
Modern Millennial Learners
Modern millennial learners consider technology integral to both their learning and non-learning lives. Members of this cohort of 18-to-33-year-olds can’t imagine a world without technology deeply integrated into how they create, share, co-create and consume information and nurture relationships. This age group has always tended be early adopters of technology and want to push the state-of-the-art to its limits more aggressively than any other prior generation.
We need learning systems and pedagogical models that allow the learner to self-regulate his or her learning pace.
By and large, education is personal to these modern learners. They grew up in an era where the education community began to embrace personalized learning in an attempt to reach economies of scale under the pressure of costs and outcomes. While technology might not have fully realized its potential, educators have now come to the realization that learning not only must be personal, but it must also embrace design thinking frameworks to create end-to-end digital and mobile experiences that transcend both software and services.
How Learning is Evolving
Innovations in technology deeply affect learners’ behaviors in any generation, but especially in this cohort. Mobile phones and the Internet of Things (IOT), which include smart home appliances, have drastically increased the rate of interruption in rhythm of daily life. And with the time between these interruptions shrinking even further, learners have increasingly shorter attention spans.
In a world where competencies and skills must be validated and demonstrated with rigor and vigor, learning modalities must allow for sustainable bursts of learning, analysis, inquiry, and immersion. In other words, a sustainable middle ground must be achieved between the two ends of the spectrum: with micro-learning moments on one end and traditional 50- or 75-minute lectures on the other.
In order to strike a balance across this spectrum, we need learning systems and pedagogical models that allow the learner to self-regulate his or her learning pace. We must apply instructional design principles that allow flexibility and flow for these short bursts of knowledge assimilation. This ideal can be achieved through a thoughtful weaving of instruction, assessment, tutorials, and practice within a robust competency-based framework. We must allow the building blocks to be quickly absorbed, but at the same time recognize that true learning requires sustained attention for assimilation of the subject matter.
Reimagining Education Technology
Since modern millennial learners tend towards self-direction and believe in self-actualization, this is a generation to cultivate, not merely teach. Technology is the only enabler that allows this at scale and that, at its core, is the true promise of education technology.
As users of self-directed competency and blended learning models, millennial learners will lean on anytime/any place mechanisms to feel a sense of connectedness and reliance on peer networks and communities of interest. Social and community-centered aspects of learning platforms will play a major role in technology, shaping the way they and future generations will learn. These aspects will be augmented by engaging social and mobile experiences, with a greater focus on capabilities such as social/community, progress and progression feedback, as well as academic and career counseling and planning assistance.
Immersive learning experiences also have the potential to become the frontrunner in emerging technology for learning. Augmented reality (computer-generated sensory input that supplements physical learning materials) and immersive learning environments have high utility and application in education. At the same time, the relative costs are astoundingly low.
Audio/visual learning has already proven its effectiveness in engaging learners and to help them capture and retain information more efficiently. Augmented reality could very well be the next phase of innovation that allows students to capture and retain experiences, thereby enabling deeper learning to occur.
A new wave of education technology is just now making its way into our collective consciousness as an accessible and attractive solution for bridging the educational gap in our country and upskilling our workforce. We must continue to push the envelope in understanding how millennial learners interact with technology, how it affects their learning habits and expectations, and how we can best deliver quality educational programs and products. In so doing, we will be doing nothing less than reimagining the education experience.
Bobby Babbrah is Chief Digital Officer of Penn Foster, an education provider offering skills development training, credentials and employment matching for today’s frontline workforce. He oversees the company’s digital and mobile educational platforms and products.
BOSTON, MA (January 12, 2016) — Penn Foster Education Group, Inc., an organization dedicated to developing and acquiring industry leading technologies, tools and resources to support alternative pathways for opportunity youth and adult learners, announced today the appointment of two labor and employment experts to join its Board of Directors. They are:
Seth Harris: Seth served four and a half years as the US Deputy Secretary of Labor, and six months as Acting US Secretary of Labor and a member of President Barack Obama's Cabinet and is now a member of Dentons' Public Policy and Regulation practice. Under his leadership, the Labor Department was widely recognized as the federal government’s leader in evidence-based, data-driven performance management and measurement. Drawing on his extensive experience in government service, Seth counsels clients on matters relating to labor, employment and immigration law and policy, as well as government performance, and regulatory policy and practice. Seth is also a Distinguished Scholar in the School of Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University, the institution where he received his undergraduate degree in the same field.
Michael Miles: a co-founder of Incubator EDU, Michael has over 25 years of experience building, growing and operating recruiting businesses. In 1988, he co-founded SeatonCorp, which grew from a staff of two to one of Crain’s “Largest Privately Held Companies” in Chicago with more than 1,600 employees. More recently, Michael co-founded INCubatoredu to introduce students to entrepreneurship at Barrington High School. The response from students, community members, and educators inspired him to expand the program nationally. Michael is also a board member for Workplace Answers, InnFlux, CareerPlace, RIVS, and Vokal Interactive. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Finance from Arizona State University.
Miles and Harris join Frank Britt, President of Penn Foster, Inc. and CEO of Penn Foster Education Group, and George Burnett, CEO, President of Northcentral University, on the Penn Foster Education Group board. Additional board members will be announced throughout 2016.
“We are excited to be continuing to build our board of directors and honored to be working alongside this distinguished duo of new members,” said Dara Warn, chief communications and strategy officer at Penn Foster Education Group. “Seth Harris and Michael Miles are seasoned practitioners and top-tier thought leaders in the labor and workforce arena.”
“A growing number of companies want to take a more active role in delivering education and training solutions to their entire employee population,” said Britt. ”The insights that come with Seth’s and Michael’s depth of experience will help to drive our strategy in supporting employers.”
About Penn Foster Education Group
Penn Foster Education Group, Inc. is an organization dedicated to developing and acquiring industry leading technologies, tools and resources to support alternative pathways for opportunity youth and adult learners. Focused on enabling education tied to workplace competencies and learner needs, Penn Foster Education Group is at the forefront of design and development of learning platforms and educational content. Penn Foster Education Group is a corporate affiliate of Penn Foster, Inc. which operates three schools – Penn Foster High School, Penn Foster Career School and Penn Foster College. Learn more at http://www.pennfostereducationgroup.com.
BOSTON, MA (December 7, 2015) — Penn Foster Education Group, Inc., a leader in innovative education solutions, announced that Penn Foster Education Group and Allen Interactions have won the 2015 Bronze Brandon Hall Excellence in Learning Award in the Best Use of Mobile Learning Category, for their jointly developed Mobile Memory Games app. The app features medical terminology games for online programs in the Allied Health and Veterinary Technology fields and has already been successfully deployed by Penn Foster Education Group, Inc.’s affiliate, Penn Foster, Inc. in its Allied Health and Veterinary Technology Associate’s Degree programs.
The entries were evaluated by a panel of veteran, independent senior industry experts, Brandon Hall Group Sr. Analysts and Executive Leadership based upon the following criteria: fit the need, design of the program, functionality, innovation, and overall measurable benefits.
“All of these winning programs deliver meaningful business results to their organizations,” said Rachel Cooke, Chief Operating Officer, Brandon Hall Group. “Winning an Excellence Award is a great honor, but the real winners are the organizations themselves and their customers and clients because of the innovation and customer focus they demonstrate.”
Excellence Awards winners will be honored at Brandon Hall Group’s HCM Excellence Conference January 27-29, 2016, at the PGA National Resort in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. Selected winners also will serve as presenters in the more than 20 breakout sessions during the 2½-day conference.
“We constantly strive to make E-learning relevant and engaging.” said Rachel Levy Wexler, Head of Educational Product Strategy at Penn Foster Education Group. “By making rote memorization fun and interactive, students not only learn medical terminology and vocabulary, but they also work to apply the language that they will be using daily, on the job. We’ve received tremendous feedback from our affiliate, Penn Foster, that its students are enjoying the module and are finding it useful.”
To develop a new learning module, Penn Foster Education Group first looked at its largest programs, and realized that medical terminology had the greatest need for vocabulary memorization. Penn Foster Education Group created two versions of the app, one for Allied Health programs and the other for the Veterinary Technology Associate's Degree program.
Penn Foster Education Group partnered with Allen Interactions to create its award-winning mobile learning app which provides a wide range of engaging interactive memory games, using responsive design and an open and easily modifiable database for an unlimited amount of content. Students are able to choose and filter by content and activity, track progress and results, and take advantage of continuous play capabilities with or without cell or wireless service.
“Our team is honored to have been recognized by The Brandon Hall Group for the Terminology Games app we developed with Penn Foster Education Group,” said Mike Drebenstedt, Lead Developer at Allen Interactions. “We’re proud to have created a responsive learning module that will be used to help improve the student learning experience, while continuing to push the envelope with learning technologies in this expanding sector.”
Penn Foster Education Group’s award-winning terminology games can be seamlessly integrated within a student’s online learning experience. In its deployment by Penn Foster, Penn Foster students access the module online, on their tablets, or on their mobile device through the school’s online Student Portal. Students can get more out of the topics covered in their courses with games and quizzes on pronunciation and spelling, test knowledge with digital flashcards, quiz themselves with helpful visual aides, and study using fill-in-the-blanks. The goal for this app is to engage students with the content and motivate them through interactive learning. The app was specifically designed to help students learn the terminology inside-out, which in turn helps students build confidence, knowledge, and credibility in the careers.
“We’re absolutely thrilled to have received a Brandon Hall award for our latest E-learning tool for students,” said Dara Warn, Chief Marketing Officer at Penn Foster. “By incorporating fun, engaging content into the Penn Foster online learning experience offered by schools like Penn Foster, we believe our students will be better able to retain the information, not only for their exams, but to apply in the workforce and entirety of their careers as medical professionals.”
About the Brandon Hall Group
Brandon Hall Group is a HCM research and advisory services firm that provides insights around key performance areas, including Learning and Development, Talent Management, Leadership Development, Talent Acquisition and Workforce Management. With more than 10,000 clients globally and 20 years of delivering world-class research and advisory services, Brandon Hall Group is focused on developing research that drives performance in emerging and large organizations, and provides strategic insights for executives and practitioners responsible for growth and business results. Click here to learn more.
About the Brandon Hall Group HCM Excellence Awards Program
Now entering its 21st year, the Brandon Hall Group HCM Excellence Awards Program is the most prestigious awards program in the industry. Often times called the “Academy Awards” by Learning, Talent and Business Executives, the program was one of the first of its kind in the learning industry, which was pioneered in 1994. The awards program attracts entrants from leading corporations around the world, as well as mid-market and smaller firms.
About Allen Interactions
Allen Interactions creates powerful custom learning experiences that help achieve organizational business goals by improving performance one interaction at a time. With more than 20 years of deep experience in instructional design, technology, creativity, process, and project management, Allen Interactions consistently achieves positive business impact. For more information click here.
In addition to its services, Allen Interactions has a cloud-based visual authoring and publishing system, ZebraZapps, which allows developers and non-programmers to create rich interactive media applications, as well as share, publish, and sell objects or entire applications.
About Penn Foster Education Group
Penn Foster Education Group, Inc. is an organization dedicated to developing and acquiring industry leading technologies, tools and resources to support alternative pathways for opportunity youth and adult learners. Focused on enabling education tied to workplace competencies and learner needs, Penn Foster Education Group is at the forefront of design and development of learning platforms and educational content. Penn Foster Education Group is a corporate affiliate of Penn Foster, Inc. which operates three schools – Penn Foster High School, Penn Foster Career School and Penn Foster College. Learn more at www.pennfostereducationgroup.com.
Penn Foster Education Group, Inc., announced today its acquisition of a competency-based learning platform that will allow students to work toward gaining competencies that employers are looking for. The tool allows faculty and administrators to focus on helping students build career-ready skills through individualized instruction, self-paced learning and adaptive feedback.
Penn Foster Education Group acquired the learning platform from San Francisco-based UniversityNow Inc., which developed the cutting-edge collaborative technology. Until today, the learning platform had been used solely at Patten University, a UniversityNow affiliated institution. Penn Foster Education Group will be licensing the platform to its educational affiliate, Penn Foster, Inc., for deployment to the 150,000 Penn Foster students who are working to earn diplomas, certificates and post-secondary degrees through educational and training programs.
Dara Warn, Penn Foster Education Group’s chief strategy officer, said that after having assessed many of the learning management solutions in the marketplace over the last few years, the UniversityNow platform clearly stood out as being a “best-in-class” product. The platform has a full range of capabilities essential to effectively delivering more personalized instruction, and can be implemented across a flexible range of content, while enabling students to connect with their peers and instructors on an “anytime and anywhere” basis.
“Our goal is to provide superior value to students and help them attain the relevant academic, professional, and personal competencies that employers value in today’s workplace,” said Warn. “The acquisition of the UniversityNow platform is representative of our commitment. This acquisition allows schools to take a major leap relative to what’s being delivered in the market today.”
“We believe that, applied appropriately, technology can make education more accessible and improve its quality, while significantly lowering costs,” said Bryan Newman, chief executive officer at UniversityNow. “We’re thrilled to transfer our learning and our technology to a trusted organization which is likewise dedicated to supporting personalized instruction to students at every level.”
Warn added: “Our ability to further enhance the value we deliver to our affiliate, Penn Foster, and our partner organizations is tremendous. The platform will help us present a personalized learning roadmap embedded with individualized instruction, self-paced learning, adaptive feedback, and peer-to-peer engagement, all of which will be accessible through mobile. Penn Foster graduates over 25,000 students from its High School each year, and we are excited to be able to deliver the kind of technology that supports individualized asynchronous educational programs on that type of scale.”
About Penn Foster Education Group: Penn Foster Education Group, Inc. is an organization dedicated to developing and acquiring industry leading technologies, tools and resources to support alternative pathways for opportunity youth and adult learners. Focused on enabling education tied to workplace competencies and learner needs, Penn Foster Education Group is at the forefront of design and development of learning platforms and educational content. Penn Foster Education Group is a corporate affiliate of Penn Foster, Inc. which operates three schools – Penn Foster High School, Penn Foster Career School and Penn Foster College. Learn more at www.pennfostereducationgroup.com.
About University Now
UniversityNow’s mission is to make a high quality college education available to everyone who seeks it by building the most affordable and accessible network of accredited universities in the world. Headquartered in San Francisco, Calif., UniversityNow operates two online, self-paced universities that offer Associate’s, Bachelor’s, and Master’s degree programs: Patten University, which is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, and New Charter University, which is nationally accredited by the Distance Education and Training Council. UniversityNow’s breakthrough learning platform employs a unique model of individualized instruction, self-paced learning, and cutting-edge collaborative technologies designed to facilitate student-to-instructor and peer-to-peer learning and support that is customized to each student’s needs. In addition to providing each student with a personalized learning experience by using a combination of committed faculty and adaptive learning software, tuition at both of UniversityNow’s schools is affordable. As a result, no student has to borrow to afford college. Learn more by visiting UniversityNow’s website at www.unow.com.
About Penn Foster Schools
The three Penn Foster Schools – Penn Foster High School, Penn Foster Career School, and Penn Foster College – are operated by Penn Foster, Inc., a corporate affiliate of Penn Foster Education Group. The Schools and their respective programs are nationally and/or regionally accredited and combine affordable career ready education with a flexible delivery model to meet the needs of non-traditional students seeking to improve their life and career opportunities.