Using “Lean" Processes in Distance Education

Mention the term “lean,” and most people think of manufacturing.  It is an understandable assumption.  The term “lean” was coined in the 1980s by automotive giant Toyota to describe their production processes, and since then it has always carried the connotation of a way to manage manufacturing processes.However, this limited view of “lean” is far from the truth. According to Melisa Ziegler, Ph.D. candidate in educational psychology at Penn State University, the institution’s World Campus has been working with lean ideals in an effort to improve service to its students. “Our motivation is improving the student experience,” she says.  The institution’s experience shows that working with even the most everyday process can reap benefits for students and university alike.

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