How Do You Personalize Learning At Your School?
Personalized learning has perhaps been one of the hottest trends in education, especially in the past two to three years. In an article earlier this school year, Education Week developed a good working definition for personalized learning. In it, they talked about the need for a system with a competency-based progression, one where each student’s progress toward clearly-defined learning targets is assessed on a regular basis. The system must include flexible learning environments that allow the system to adapt to the individual needs of each learner on an ongoing basis, one with personalized learning paths. It also talked about the need for such a system to maintain accurate individual learner profiles, ones for which students can view their strengths, needs, motivations, and goals.
On New Year’s Day, the blog Personalize Learning: Transform Learning for All Learners challenged educators to make 2015 the year of the learner by posting an infographic on the 10 Trends to Personalize Learning in 2015. It challenged schools to develop systems that have shared beliefs, and are both competency-based and self-sustainable. Such systems, it suggested, should foster flexible learning spaces, multi-age co-teaching, inquire-based project-based learning, play-based learning, assessment as learning, better teacher and learner partnerships, and advisories.
According to Daniel Greenstein and Vicki Phillips, in a recent Bill and Melina Gates Foundation article entitled 5 Things You Should Know About Personalized Learning for the blog Impatient Optimists, “Learning becomes even more powerful when it’s personalized to each student’s needs, interests, and circumstances.” Greenstein and Phillips reminded educators not to forget that in an effective personalized learning system, students are always at the center, and this is true of students all the way from Kindergarten through college. They stressed that personalized learning it is not a new concept, but that increasingly powerful technology tools can help teachers teach to the strengths and interests of each student in ways that they have never been able to do before.
Writer Jordan Shapiro, in an opinion article entitled Remember, Ed-tech is Really a Tool for Teachers, stressed that technology will never play the role of a robotic teacher, replacing the teaching role that humans have served for countless generations. The technology tools of today have been built to help teachers be adaptive to meet the needs of all learners. He writes, “Consider how technology might minimize the difficulty involved in juggling specific and personalized contextual preferences in a classroom of 25 kids by identifying individualized learning objectives on a daily basis, imagining useful measurements of incremental achievement, continuously monitoring for mastery, and constantly undertaking ongoing formative and substantive assessments. In the traditional classroom, all of this is happening on-the-fly while five-year-olds dance around the room building with blocks and singing at the top of their lungs. It is not easy.”
Grace Rubenstein of Edutopia offers ten tips for personalized learning via technology. Included in her list are some great strategies such as delivering instruction through multiple forms of media, giving students options, pretesting students’ knowledge before each unit, let students drive, and share the work of creating differentiating lessons.
Personalized learning has the power to revolutionize how we approach learning in the coming years. What is your school doing to personalize learning today?