What is Personalized Learning?
Personalized learning means that learning starts with the learner. Personalized Learning takes a holistic view of the individual, skill levels, interests, strengths and challenges, and prior knowledge. Learners become more responsible of their learning. The teacher becomes more of an advisor, facilitator, and guide. Roles change. Teaching and learning changes.
For more information go to Personalize Learning.
Why we need to move to Personalized Learning?
Schools were designed around the factory model which has been in place for over 120 years. Today’s learners are not challenged nor engaged by traditional models so they are searching for alternatives that they know: online courses, home schools, and/or dropping out. Each person is unique. After years of teaching “one size fits all,” and seeing it fail, learners are demanding to meet their personal needs so they can be prepared for college, career and life. We continue to teach out-dated strategies to prepare learners for our past not their future. Instead, we need to create a different mindset that develops higher-order thinking skills that they will need to be global citizens and so they reach their fullest potential.
What does Personalized Learning look like?
A personalized learning environment encourages learners to progress at their own pace instead of by grade levels and “mandated” seat time. You do not just hear the teacher talking. Learners are collaborating, working individually, and even teaching each other. The learner has their own learning path with multiple strategies based on how they learn best. This changes the teacher role and the whole learning environment. School doesn’t look like “traditional school” anymore.
Learners can be co-designers of the curriculum with the teachers. Teachers are co-learners with the learners. The teacher doesn’t have to be the hardest working person in the classroom; to really learn, the learners need to be. They want to learn because they have a voice in their learning and understand what they need to learn.
Why has it been so tough to move to Personalized Learning Environments?
Teachers were not taught to teach personalized learning strategies or understand how they can do incorporate it within the constraints of all they are expected to do. Teachers need help in designing the learner profile and strategies that encourage learners to own and drive their learning.
Administrators, parents and learners are all essential pieces of the puzzle. Parents know their children but only know how they themselves were taught and may not be aware of learner-centered strategies. Additionally, administrators have so much to do and are overwhelmed with the task of just managing the school. Teachers are busy with full class sizes, testing demands and classroom management. As a result, many schools feel it is easier to continue with the same, traditional school fundamentals as “how we do it around here.”
There are those in the industry who believe that “Personalized Learning” is a fad or even dangerous. In several articles and discussions, there are concerns that learners need a broader knowledge and guidance from the teacher. We based our work on Universal Design for Learning ® (UDL) as the lens for the teacher and learner. The teacher is a valuable partner in learning guiding the process and scaffolding skills and knowledge. They just don’t have to be the only expert in the class.
Want to personalize learning for your learners?
Barbara Bray is co-founder of Personalize Learning, LLC with Kathleen McClaskey. Barbara and Kathleen can help you and your school:
- Design and implement an assessment to determine current status of teachers, students, and school community.
- Facilitate the shared vision of your new direction.
- Work with teachers to design learner profiles for learners.
- Provide background and research on personalized learning and what it could look like in their school.
- Coach teachers on the design of first project with voice and choice.
- Model project for teachers who want to move cautiously and provide ongoing virtual coaching.
- Assist teachers and learners in co-designing the curriculum with open-ended questions.
- Demonstrate how to make this change in the classroom.
To learn more about personalized learning and how you can engage your learners, go to Personalize Learning, LLC.