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5

Blended Learning for Each Learner

Blended learning refers to any time a student learns, at least in part, at a brick-and-mortar facility and through online delivery with student control over time, place, path, or pace. [source: infographic] This sounds like personalizing learning to me. Yet, something’s happening how schools are using the blended learning approach.

Blended Learning

Blended learning environments are growing especially in the charter school movement. According to Michael Horn and Heather Staker on Innosight:

Online learning is sweeping across America. In the year 2000, roughly 45,000 K–12 students took an online course. In 2009, more than 3 million K–12 students did. What was originally a distance- learning phenomenon no longer is. Most of the growth is occurring in blended-learning environments, in which students learn online in an adult-supervised environment at least part of the time. As this happens, online learning has the potential to transform America’s education system by serving as the backbone of a system that offers more personalized learning approaches for all students.

They continue with a concern about the numbers of students who will have access to o online learning opportunities. There is a limit, however, to the number of students in America who have the ability to be home-schooled or attend a full-time virtual school. The same analysis that shows that 50 percent of all high school courses will be delivered online by 2019 reveals that home schooling and full-time virtual schooling will not substitute for mainstream schooling, as their rapid growth flattens out at around 10 percent of the K–12 schooling population.

There is a limit, however, to the number of students in America who have the ability to be home-schooled or attend a full-time virtual school. The same analysis that shows that 50 percent of all high school courses will be delivered online by 2019 reveals that home schooling and full-time virtual schooling will not substitute for mainstream schooling, as their rapid growth flattens out at around 10 percent of the K–12 schooling population.

Blended learning means something different to different groups depending on the ages of students, access to resources, teacher support and training, integrating digital literacy, assessment strategies, and amount of collaborative planning time.

Allison Littlejohn, director of the Caledonian Academy, Glasgow Caledonian University wrote 20 Tips and Resources for using Technology in Higher Education where she shared about blended learning:

Blended learning should transform learning, not just replicate teaching: Companies want graduates who can source, filter and use existing knowledge to create new knowledge, and the university is key to equipping students with these skills. Yet we seldom see technology  tools being used in radically new ways in Higher Ed. They are usually used to replicate lectures – think of websites or podcasts – rather than enabling students to learn in new ways.

Littlejohn makes a point that the relationship between blended learning and digital literacy is important, yet often overlooked. There are few well-defined ideas on how learners make connections across distributed networks and how they chart their learning pathways.Most of the blended learning models that I’m finding in my research so far talk about learning pathways and students’ personalizing their learning, but, in most of the models, the schools “personalize” students’ learning and adapt their students’ learning paths based on test scores and the level they reach on some online activities. Teachers may differentiate activities that they post on their website or “flip the classroom.” I like the idea of flipping the classroom so the real work in the classroom is meaningful and relevant. However, these activities are so much work for teachers. Teachers are working after-school taking up much of their own time to develop materials, lesson plans, and websites. Teachers spend time compiling data to determine how to teach to the different groups of students in their classroom. They assume that if they differentiate instruction, then each student in their classroom will understand the content.
Teachers should not be the hardest working people in the classroom.
When you look at the blended learning model for Higher Ed [Blended Learning Toolkit], teaching is teacher-directed either on-site and online and self-directed. With the availability of iTunes University, Open Education Resources [How to create your own textbook] and digital textbooks or Flexbooks [CK12/flexbooks], teachers from K-20 are picking and choosing resources to customize instruction. In all these cases, are we as teachers understanding how our students learn best? Are we taking into account each learner is not only different but they may learn in a different way? That’s a lot to think about.

 

There are organizations like Rocketship Education that are using adaptive courseware for students to increase their achievement in specific content areas like math and reading. These tend to be in lab situations monitored by a para-professional or teacher. The concern I have for this model is that student learning pathways are based on algorythms calculated from the answers students choose. The student has not designed their learning path or determined how they learn best using the different games or online activities. Student test scores do go up, but are students learning critical thinking skills? Some students don’t learn well this way — some do well for a time and then plateau. In this case, the software doesn’t take in account how the learner learns best. They may move to a different level or receive intervention strategies to understand the content, but do they really “get” it? How can a computer understand how each learner learns best?
How about changing the word “Student” to “Learner?” Student implies that they can only learn from a teacher. Learner implies a different role for teacher and learner. The learning starts with the learner. The learner drives and owns their learning. How about re-evaluating how the learner learns and using that information to design their personal learning path or personal journey?

 

Maybe what we call blended is more than on-site and online. It means knowing how the learner learns best and then blending the following to help them reach their fullest potential:
  • on-site
  • online
  • interactive games
  • small groups
  • one-on-one
  • appropriate resources
  • technology
  • observations
  • collaboration
  • personal journeys
  • flipping the classroom
  • inquiry and critical thinking
  • project-based
  • problem-based
  • design-based
  • challenge-based
  • studio-based
  • and so much more…
What if…
  • learners are able to determine how they learn best?
  • teachers are co-designers of blended learning environments with learners?
  • learners have a voice and choice in the way they learn?
  • there are a variety of opportunities of blended learning approaches to choose from?

 

We will see and research more models and examples of personalizing learning. Just think we are in the middle of discovering and transforming learning.  We will have to figure out how to personalize learning for all learners of all ages. The time is now. This is very exciting to be part of this type of transformation of learning. There will be lots of tugging and pulling and pushing to get it the right way. But I don’t think there will be one right way. I’m thinking each learner’s learning path will be their way.
0

Free Report Explaining the Chart on Personalization

The chart on Personalization vs Differentiation vs Individualization that Kathleen McClaskey and I created has brought an enormous interest from people and organizations around the world. We also have received lots of requests for copies of the chart along with thousands of hits. So what we did was create a place to download the chart.

Now that the chart is all over, we have been getting lots of questions and requests for more information. We created a report explaining the elements of the chart in more detail and added it to the download.

Click here to learn more and download your free chart and the report

We would appreciate feedback on the report and please share with the people in your network!
0

Google's Privacy Policy: What? So What?

Google Privacy PolicyThe privacy terms at Google changed today. The goal is to streamline your experience and cut through a lot of legalese that Internet companies put together. However, as part of this process, Google is also sharing data between all of their services. When you are signed into Google, Google combines  information about users provided from one service with information from other services. The goal is to treat each user as one individual across all Google products, such as Gmail, Google Docs, YouTube and other Web services. These changes have Europe, Congress, the Electronic Privacy Information Center and others really upset. {source}

Is this personalizing what you want or actually customizing what a company can market to you?

“We can provide reminders that you’re going to be late for a meeting based on your location, your calendar and an understanding of what the traffic is like that day,” reads Google’s blog explaining the search giant’s unified policy. This works whether you’re accessing Google on your computer, tablet or cellphone, as long as you’re logged in according to Technolog on MSNBC.

“People still have to do way too much heavy lifting, and we want to do a better job of helping them out,” Google points out.

Heavy lifting??? That’s another way of saying Google knows how to find the resources for you. It’s just that the resources they find may be advertisements. Another concern is that Google is now better equipped to help out law enforcement officials and the government when it comes to finding out about you. Curious what Google can find out about you:

For some time now, Google’s been able to connect your phone with your phone number and carrier, identify your computer model and OS (right down to the serial number), collect your IP address (traceable to your real-life address), and save what you’ve searched for.

The policy states that Google will collect your location information, even if you have your GPS turned off. It says it will collect cookies data and other information about your devices. But the policy also states that Google can change your information and show information about you to others without your express consent. Did you know that?

Google’s Privacy Policy (March 1, 2012)

Google Privacy

So what if the data will be used for advertisements? That’s nothing new. The only difference is that the advertisements will be truer to your interests. Customized!  Remember — Google is free. They need to pay for their services somehow. Right?

Here’s my issue: Google’s privacy policy is NOT personalizing your search. Personalizing means you choose what you want when you want it. You drive the information to you. Remember boolean searches. Google is using your information to customize what you see and who markets to you. Your search results are different for you than someone else right now. Some of the top results get there because they pay to be promoted.

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Personalized Learning Initiative in Wisconsin

CESA 1

Thought Leader Interview: Jim Rickabaugh

 

Jim Rickabaugh, Director of the Institute @ CESA #1, shared with me their region’s journey for the Personalized Learning Initiative. Southeastern Wisconsin is mobilizing as a region to transform public education through personalized learning for all students.

The Institute @ CESA #1 was established to work with 45 member school districts on a unique regional approach to transform public education in Southeastern Wisconsin into a system that is student-centered and personalized for each learner.

Almost three years ago, a group of superintendents in CESA 1 (Southeaster Wisconsin) discussed the combination of tight money, schools being blamed for things out of their control, and accountability that didn’t seem to make a difference. They all agreed “there’s got to be a better way.”

Jim Rickabaugh explained, “It seems like we were dismantling the systems we were charged to protect and the children we were supposed to develop. We then started on a journey on what could be done with a system.”

Turning from victim to action  – we have to save our system.

They did a lot of research and concluded:

  1. That the system we have educating our children is not designed to do what we need to do for our children. Our teachers are working harder than ever.  It is a design problem.
  2. As tight as money seems, there is a lot of money, yet it is tied up in a system that does not allow for flexibility.

Transforming Public Education

 

“We wrote a white paper that laid out the arguments that gave us hope how a system can be redesigned instead of reform work tweaking the old system. Our initial inclination that the cavalry was not going to save us. The states are so tied to national accountability programs.”

Read the white paper here.

Excerpts adapted from the Institute @ CESA #1 blog:

When significant changes are made to learning and teaching, the roles of students and teachers change. Organizations feel pressure as new ways of learning “bump up” against existing structures such as schedule, calendar, student groupings or grading practices.  Stakeholders involved in personalized learning clamor for the flexibility necessary to truly transform public education into a student-centered environment. Conversations about changing existing structures then begin to take place.

These conversations may be difficult because changes to the status quo can be uncomfortable for those involved. However, because the models of innovation were fully explored and tested in the first two phases of change, a solid foundation has been laid. Those involved understand that structural changes are necessary in order to make the vision of getting learning right for all students a reality.

Generally it is after structural issues have been addressed that policies are changed, since the strength and purpose of policy is to stabilize a system and practices. In this last phase we will see an innovative system, fully transformed. To help frame the work, the Institute has developed a change strategy to guide our districts as they participate in the Personalized Learning Initiative, based on our honeycomb model. This strategy is based on change in three areas: learning and teaching, relationships and roles; and structures and policies, to be addressed in three subsequent phases.

The model started with the honeycomb system with a variety of iterations where they invited small teams, designed seminars, and developed informal coaching with rubrics and tools to think about the work. There were 3 waves. Wave 1 started with 10 projects. Each group pulled pieces of the model together to take partial parts of the honeycomb. They are now on Wave 3.

They created a virtual conference center for districts to collaborate around similar work, on demand video or audio conferencing, collaborative work on documents, face-to-face opportunities, and hosted convenings all around Personalized Learning.

Thank you Jim Rickabaugh! We will be following you and looking forward to sharing the stories from your region and the Institute @ CESA #1.

1

The Information Diet

All of us have used the term “Information Overload”, but is it really that? This book, The Information Diet by Clay Johnson, has a different take on how we use information.

The Information Diet

The Information Diet: A Case for Conscious Consumption

The author shares that humans spend upwards of 11 hours out of every 24 hours in a state of constant consumption. Not eating, but gorging on information ceaselessly spewed from the screens and speakers we hold dear. Just as we have grown morbidly obese on sugar, fat, and flour—so, too, have we become gluttons for texts, instant messages, emails, RSS feeds, downloads, videos, status updates, and tweets. As part of the technological revolution, many of us are addicted. We wake up and have to check our social media to see who did what when and comment on this here and there.

We’re all battling a storm of distractions, hit with notifications and tempted by tasty tidbits of information. This is just like  too much junk food can lead to obesity, too much junk information can lead to cluelessness according to the author. We are taking multitasking to extreme limits. So here is a book that opened my eyes. The Information Diet shows you how to thrive in this information glut—what to look for, what to avoid, and how to be selective. In the process, author Clay Johnson explains the role information has played throughout history, and why following his prescribed diet is essential for everyone who strives to be smart, productive, and sane.

In The Information Diet, you will:

  • Discover why eminent scholars are worried about our state of attention and general intelligence
  • Examine how today’s media—Big Info—give us exactly what we want: content that confirms our beliefs
  • Learn to take steps to develop data literacy, attention fitness, and a healthy sense of humor
  • Become engaged in the economics of information by learning how to reward good information providers
  • Just like a normal, healthy food diet, The Information Diet is not about consuming less—it’s about finding a healthy balance that works for you

2

Personal Journeys in Kindergarten

Transforming classrooms where learning is more personalized takes time. After Kathleen McClaskey and I created the chart “Personalization vs Differentiation vs Individualization” we have been receiving comments and stories from around the world about personalizing learning for their students. The personal journeys many of these teachers and students are traveling are exciting. So I decided to start sharing some of these journeys with you.

Lisa Welch’s and Wanda Richardson’s Personal Journeys

Their team email: rwteam@kmsd.edu
Wales Elementary School, Wales, Wisconsin,
Kettle Morain School District

Lisa shared their story here:
We team teach in a classroom with 43 kindergarten students. We have two classrooms that have been opened up using an 8 ft. doorway. This year, as part of the Kettle Moraine School District initiative along with NxGL and CESA 1, we were given the opportunity to facilitate a transformation in education via Personalized Learning.< Our goal is to help personalized learning become scalable throughout our district. Our classroom is a 1 to 1 environment through the use of netbooks. We have spent a good chunk of the year trying new things and finding new ways to engage the kids while at the same time making sure that we are meeting the kids’ needs both academically as well as socially/emotionally. It has been quite a journey! We started the year with a learning plan where there were approximately 8-9 activities that fit into a specific theme and used the multiple intelligences as the basis of each activity. The students’ task was to complete each activity on the plan, but they could decide in which order they worked. After trying this model for approximately 4 weeks, we found that we weren’t getting the engagement that we had hoped. We were also finding that the kids weren’t as independent as we had hoped.

Upon reflection, we found that really, we were “missing the boat” when it came to truly personalizing learning.

We went back to square one and really started putting our thinking caps on. Some of the questions we were grappling with were:

  • How can you personalize learning for students who are not yet able to read?
  • How can you help student’s become independent learners at this young age?
  • How can the 4 c’s of 21st Century Learning make their way into everything we do?
  • How can we impart that core knowledge that is vital at this age?

We don’t have all the answers by any means, but we are certainly finding that we are on an exciting path at this time! Currently, every child in our classroom has a PERSONALIZED Learning Plan. These plans are created according to the child’s interests in learning styles as well as in subject areas. For example, one child is studying the subway and is interested in creating on the computer, math and music/dancing.

His learning plan includes researching various books for different examples of the subway, after looking through the books, he will use Post-It notes to mark and take notes on these pages. His next task is to use Microsoft Word to access clipart that he can transfer to another program (Promethean ActivInspire) and create a story using the pictures. Finally he will listen to different sound waves of a subway passing that we embedded into a computer program for him and drew and wrote what the sound inspired from him.

My Learning Plan
Each child’s plan has my voice recording the words (this is possible through ActivInspire) so that while the kids still cannot read, they can be independent in working with the plan. When all the activities are completed, they can choose to extend their earning on the same subject. For example, this particular child who is learning about subways went home and made a subway using recyclables. This prompted us to talk with the kids about Anytime/Anywhere learning. We explained to the kids that learning can happen everywhere they go; in the store, at dinner, right before bed, on trips, etc. They are starting to extend all of their learning and parents are becoming more involved in this process.

We even have some kids (three as of now) who are interested and started creating some of their own learning plans with our coaching. Right now, along with following certain district goals, we are using the Common Core Standards to assess and frame our student’s learning. It is working quite nicely. Also, we have been using DreamBox math and RAZ-Kids to supplement our math and reading work.

Finally, we have changed our classroom environment so that we have more areas where smaller learning communities can take place. We have replaced many of our tables with coffee tables, pub tables, and comfortable, chairs. I have attached pictures of this environment. Since creating this type of environment, we have seen more opportunity for communication and collaboration.

Wales Elementary Kindergarten tables

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wales Elementary Kindergarten

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As previously stated, we have much to learn, but we are on our way to creating a truly personalized experience for those who count the most; our students!”

_______________________

Thank you Lisa and Wanda! I see some resemblance to the Reggio Emilia approach and will definitely keep following your journey.

2

Notability App - An App You Will Love

Notability App

 

Notability powerfully integrates handwriting, PDF annotation, typing, recording, and organizing so you can take notes your way!

This week you can get Notability for 80% off – for 99¢

 

 

Ginger Labs

I am starting to use Notability instead of Pages or Word. I highly recommend it and at this price, it’s an app that everyone should try. If you miss the special deal, it is still a special deal.

Notability is the perfect note-taking companion for iTunes U! Liberate yourself from piles of paper and books by keeping this data in Notability. Our full-featured and easy to use tool set enables all types of annotating and data capture. So what does it do?

 

Full-featured Handwriting

  • Capturing ideas easy and awesome with smooth ink.
  • Use the zoom window to quickly draw every detail.
  • Check out the palm rest to protect your notes from unwanted marks.
  • Copy, move and even re-style the color and width of any ink.
  • Drag-and-drop thumbnails to reorder notes while adding or removing pages as needed.
  • Choose a paper to fit your style and use a variety of pen colors and widths to create beautiful notes.

 

PDF Annotation

  • Annotate PDFs.
  • Record, type or handwrite on anything.
  • Share your annotations with anyone using email or Dropbox and more.

 

Advanced Word-Processing

  • Try the features like styling, outlining, and spell check as the perfect tools to get the job done quickly and accurately.
  • Use bullets, bold, italic, underline, font presets, cursor controls, and more, seamlessly to help you create rich notes.

 

Linked Audio Recording

  • Link audio recordings automatically to your notes.
  • Review your notes, then tap a word to hear what was said at that moment.
  • Use advanced audio processing features to create brilliant recordings in any setting.
  • Use the recording feature to capture your own voice for memos, presentations, or speech practice.

 

Auto-Sync

  • Auto-sync your notes to back up in the cloud.
  • Easily collaborate at work or school sharing ideas and notes on the fly.

 

Media Insertion

  • Enhance your notes by adding pictures from your photo library or from the iPad camera.
  • Insert web clips, figures, and drawings to compliment your notes.
  • Crop, resize, and draw on images to make them perfect. Your text will automatically flow around them.

 

Library Organization

  • Organize, protect and share your ideas and notes.
  • Drag and drop notes into a subject and use a password to keep notes secure.
  • Auto-sync your notes to automatically upload to Dropbox, iDisk or WebDAV.
  • Import notes, PDFs, and RTFs from the cloud or web.
  • Share notes via Email, Dropbox, iTunes File Sharing, and AirPrint.

 

When I review apps, I want to find apps that meet multiple needs. Notability does everything students will need to keep notes and share with their teacher and peers.

So if you get a chance, download Notability to try while it’s at a great price. Go here to download: Ginger Labs

Ginger Labs

0

It's all about Apps: One That's Free Today!!

Since I am being asked to recommend apps for schools and districts, I thought it would be a good idea to put together some reviews of interesting apps. I also am finding that some apps are free for a short time. Here’s a fun app: Dr. Seuss Band that is free just for one day: Today at Oceanhouse Media

Dr. Seuss Band

Oceanhouse Media

Anyone any age will love this. You can build your own wacky Dr. Seuss-like instrument and then play it by pressing the appropriate buttons. This is the Dr. Seuss equivalent of the Rock Band/Guitar Hero games combining hand-eye coordination with musical fun and it works very well, although it might be tough for younger kids.

There are in-app purchases with Dr. Seuss songs. Get this app today and then see if you want to purchase anymore apps. I’m thinking that they can all be unlocked just by completing certain accomplishments in the app.

From iTunes:

Experience the excitement as Dr. Seuss Band transforms your device into a vibrant, energetic musical instrument that all ages will enjoy! Jam along with playful Seussian melodies or create your own whimsical masterpiece. As you play, you’ll unlock new instruments, silly effects and catchy songs. Contains over 120 combinations of sounds, so you’ll always have something new to discover!

 

Features:

  • 2 Ways to Play – Go for high scores in the Music Game or use Free Play to compose your own tunes.
  • 10 Original Songs – Play along with the soundtrack from The Cat in the Hat, Green Eggs and Ham, Dr. Seuss’s ABCs, Hop on Pop and more!
  • 5 Unique Horn Instruments – Play Seussian versions of the Trumpet, French Horn, Clarinet, Trombone and Flute.
  • 10 Crazy Horn Effects – Customize the sound of your horn by adding fun effects like a Fish Bowl, Train Whistle, Reverb and more!
  • Mix and Match Horns – Swap parts of the horn while playing to create over 120 Horn Combinations!
  • 3 Difficulty Levels – Choose Easy for beginners, Medium for experienced players and Hard for experts.
  • 26 Unlockables – Achieve high scores to unlock Songs, Horns and Effects.
  • Gamecenter Leaderboards – Compare your high scores with the competition.

 

Additional features:

  • Beautiful 3D artwork inspired by Dr. Seuss
  • Whimsical music and sound effects
  • Suitable for all ages

 

Some of the criteria I use for reviewing apps:

  • age levels
  • age appropriateness
  • skill and reading levels
  • skills attained
  • independent learning
  • content or standards met

 

My Dr. Seuss Band review:

  • children of all ages who love Dr. Seuss
  • visually intuitive
  • increases music abilities
  • encourages independent learning and collaborative play
  • meets NETS for students on creativity, collaboration, and independent exploration

 

I encourage you to try this and download it today. If you get it for free, you own it forever. How cool is that? Get it here: Oceanhouse Media

0

Reboot to Encourage Wonder

“Where there is an open mind, there will always be a frontier.” Charles Kettering

 

Professor Michael Wesch reboots after hearing advice that his teaching isn’t working. This article in the Chronicle of Higher Ed speaks to me and not only for higher ed.

Michael Wesch teaching students

How many of us reboot what we are doing when we realize we are going down the wrong road? We are all guilty of continuing down the same road because it is easier than changing. Educators in all grades have worked for years developing lessons that we believe teach the concepts they want their students to learn. If one lesson didn’t work, then another did. It takes a lot of work to start over — reboot.

Caution for the futureWhat that means for many teachers is to change the way they teach. This means letting go and using technology. Both of these concepts are scary for many teachers. Some are almost ready for retirement and just don’t want to reboot now. Some are resistant because they don’t want to believe that what they are teaching isn’t working. Let’s rethink why we went into the teaching profession. It’s really not about us. It’s all about the learners. If we continue to teach like we did years ago, we not only leave many of our learners behind, we do them a disservice. They won’t be prepared for their future.

In the article, Professor Wesch realizes that students can use technology to search for wonder.

“At its best, Mr. Wesch believes that interactive technology—and other methods to create more active experiences in the classroom—can be used to forge that kind of relationship between teachers and students where professors nurture rather than talk down to students.

In one of his courses, he teamed up with students to produce an ethnography of YouTube users. The project helped the students feel more like collaborators because the technology allowed them to immediately publish their work online.”

 What does that mean? Talk down to students? I don’t think teachers think they are talking down to students if they are lecturing, giving feedback or grading papers. When you teach something you love, you think that your enthusiasm will be enough to excite your students. Times are different. You’ve heard “times are a changing.” Well, the future is here now.  If you give control to your students to drive their learning, that doesn’t mean you are not teaching effectively. Lectures and direct instruction is one way to present information, but are you losing your students?

Lecture and chalkboard

I remember sitting for hours and hours staring at my teachers’ backs. I zoned out. I doodled. I knew there had to be a better way for students like me. I learn best by doing. Now more students are like me and have gone way beyond me. They are tweeting, texting, and googling while in class. Mr. Wesch writes about using these tools to engage students.

What if you set up a backchannel chat or Twitter group to give you instant feedback? Ask a student to help you do this? If you ask students to blog, don’t correct their spelling. This is a great space to journal and publish their thoughts. You can learn from their posts. This is still scary for some teachers. Are these teachers resistant or just obstinate? What if they really believe what they are doing is making a difference?

See Think WonderAsk your students! Give them a survey or ask for feedback on how you teach and how they learn. It’s not just about you or the content anymore. It’s about learners being prepared for a career, the type of job that they love or pays them enough so they can live comfortably, or gives them the opportunity to be an entrepreneur. There are some learners who just want to learn because they are excited about something — passionate and interested to learn. They may want to take amazing photographs or understand astronomy because they always wanted to know about the stars.

What do you wonder about?

Just imagine a day in your class that you encouraged wonder! Take 20% of your time to let go and reboot your teaching so students wonder about something they are passionate about. Encourage students to use technology and teach you. I wonder what will happen to your students. Let me know.

0

It's not Personal. It's Business.

Anyone and any company can say the words “Personalized Learning” even if it isn’t personalizing learning. It’s how you frame it. It’s about business. It’s not personal. I think I’ve heard this before. Yes – it’s a quote from the first Godfather movie 1972.

Michael Corleone:Where does it say that you can’t kill a cop?
Tom Hagen: Come on, Mikey…
Michael Corleone: Tom, wait a minute. I’m talking about a cop that’s mixed up in drugs. I’m talking about a – a – a dishonest cop – a crooked cop who got mixed up in the rackets and got what was coming to him. That’s a terrific story. And we have newspaper people on the payroll, don’t we, Tom?
[Tom nods]
Michael Corleone: And they might like a story like that.
Tom Hagen: They might, they just might.
Michael Corleone: [to Sonny] It’s not personal, Sonny. It’s strictly business.

Quote from IMDb: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0068646/quotes?qt=qt0361860

So why am I talking about this now? Okay – I’m not saying that companies that are using the term “Personalized Learning” are like the Godfather. I used this because this quote talked about stories and taking something personal. It’s all about the stories we tell and how we frame things. If you frame “Personalized Learning” that it is all about demonstrating success by increasing test scores, the story you are telling is not about the learner.  It is not Personalized Learning. Personalized learning is all about the learner,  how they learn best, taking what they know and using their talents to guide them along their learning path. Adaptive instruction is about using data and designing lessons that ultimately increase student achievement and test scores. Personalized learning is about learners setting their own goals to direct their learning.

Adaptive, individualized, and differentiated instruction is teacher-directed instruction. I am not saying that we don’t need the teacher or direct instruction. Teachers need to understand the learners so they develop effective instruction for all learners. Personalized learning means that learners understand how they learn best. It also means that teachers use whatever means and data they can to understand how each of their learners learn best. Then they can develop better instruction for each and every learner in their class.

Kathleen McClaskey has shared with me how Universal Design of Learning (UDL) based on neuroscience can be used to design lessons that are intentional and informed to reach the maximum amount of learners in the classroom. Teachers who use UDL understand how they can engage students and  provide access to the content in addition to understanding how students can express what they know. This becomes personal from the learners’ perspective. With this type of understanding of each student in the class, a teacher then can be an advisor, guide, and co-learner to help the learner guide their learning path.

Kathleen and I are asking educators to be critical reviewers and curators of the information that they read on personalized learning. Both of us have been curating the topic for some time. We started Scoopits on Personalized Learning that you can follow:

 

I trademarked “Making Learning Personal” over ten years ago before the standardized movement became so big.  Then education moved away from what I believed learners needed and the emphasis became teaching to the masses with standardized tests using “one size fits all” instruction. This became big business for textbook companies who created curriculum that needed to be approved by each state; it was more about being proficient at grade level and less about the learner. Teaching moved to direct instruction and mostly recall of information. That’s where the standardized test movement grew. My focus on personalizing learning moved from project-based learning to direct instruction and creating lesson plans that taught to the test. It became about the tools, the tests, and the data. It didn’t start with the learner or how they learned best.

“I took it personal. Now I know it was just business.”


I just want to encourage businesses and educators to frame the term “Personalized Learning” correctly. If you adapt the curriculum, you are not personalizing it. The stories Kathleen and I will be telling in our book, on our blogs, sharing in Scoopit, and on social media will be about personalized learning models and how learners can personalize their own learning. Teachers ARE a critical component in personalizing the learning for each learner. We will share research how Finland, British Columbia, models in the US, and around the world are personalizing learning. I ask you as you research personalized learning that you:

  • are a critical reviewer of information on personalized learning.
  • investigate who is writing the material about personalized learning.
  • ask what their purpose is in using the term “Personalized Learning.”
  • develop appropriate goals in personalizing learning for your school based around the learner first.
  • share how you are personalizing learning with Kathleen and I so we can tell your story.
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