ONU School of Graduate and Continuing Studies announces Your Way Program

Ground-breaking initiative available for adult students to access general education courses through Olivet Online.

Olivet Nazarene University's School of Graduate and Continuing Studies announces Your Way, a ground-breaking initiative which features tuition-free general education courses, providing adult students with a pathway to earn a bachelor’s degree and creating a model that redefines the learning experience by using best-in-class technology to engage students online. This program is exclusively available for adult students who enroll through Olivet Online.

Your Way is an online, completely asynchronous flipped classroom, where students are able to read and consume the course material first and enter an online community to discuss the content with classmates and faculty to expand their knowledge and deepen understanding. Course content is created ahead of time, allowing Olivet’s faculty to educate at scale. 

“Through Your Way, general education courses are tuition-free so that adult students from across the nation have equitable access to college,” explained Ryan Spittal, Vice President for Olivet’s ONU Global division, which serves adult students. “Since every student has to take general education courses before taking the courses specific to their degree program, this tuition-free general education initiative flattens barriers and bends the cost curve, allowing students to take courses with no up-front costs.”

The courses, themselves, also have been reimagined. The new, dynamic learning experience is designed to provide bite-sized lessons, with knowledge-check quizzes, tests that have immediate feedback, learning activities that foster student engagement, and gamification badges earned for every module of content to keep people motivated. Students have unlimited re-takes for homework and tests, ensuring that these assessments promote understanding without negatively affecting the students’ grade in the course. That means they don’t have to spend their time worrying about their success and can concentrate fully on learning and understanding the course content by engaging with faculty and fellow students.

“With 15 years in the online market, Olivet knows that compelling content is important, but we feel that facilitating connection in an online environment is key to effective education,” said Spittal. “It is more important now than ever before, especially in this social-distancing culture, to provide a quality education and moment-making connections in an online experience that reflects our supportive on-campus ethos.”

For that reason, the program is built on Trailhead, Salesforce’s wildly popular online learning platform, and uses its Experience Cloud platform, where Olivet has developed its digital campus, called the Wayfinder Community. Students can enter their virtual classroom in Wayfinder, and they also can engage their advisor, receive help from staff, and collaborate with peers in a secure online environment. The always-on Wayfinder Community allows students to learn and engage from anywhere, on their schedule, using any device.

“Technology has the potential to transform the world, including increasing access to education. It takes organizations like Olivet Nazarene to see that potential and turn it into a reality. By democratizing education, and making it more accessible, Olivet Nazarene is unlocking opportunities for its students, and creating a better future for us all,” says Rob Acker, CEO of Salesforce.org.

Spittal followed up, explaining, "We know universities must bend the cost curve to help adult students return to college to earn a degree and equip themselves to contribute to the knowledge economy. Through this pathway, we truly are living our mission and proving that higher education has a higher purpose.”

More information on the Your Way program can be found at https://online.olivet.edu/yourway.

This story was originally published at online.olivet.edu