“One size fits all education” will soon belong to the past, as new technological devices and platforms enter the education system, personalized learning is starting to be recognized as a more effective teaching method.
As positive as personalized learning can be for students, it requires a skilled teacher in order to be successfully executed.
If you are a teacher who is wondering how and why you should apply this method to your class, here is what you need to know.
What is personalized learning?
Personalized learning is a learning experience that caters to each student’s specific need.
Before technology entered the classroom the only way a student could have been offered a personalized education would have been through a private tutor, today that is no longer the case.
Thanks to cloud technology, gamification, and other tools that promote interactive learning methods, one teacher can offer several different personalized options to their class.
This is incredibly helpful for students with physical or learning disabilities, as well as students from lower-income families.
The technology needed to support these changes is, in fact, becoming more affordable every day.
Why is personalized learning effective?
It facilitates students’ approach to the subject, no matter the topic or the complexity level.
Though it is heavily dependent on the quality of teaching, if done correctly personalized learning will allow the whole class to eventually reach the same level of knowledge. What will differ is the path each student uses to reach the same conclusion: this process will help students to identify their weaknesses as well as their passions and talents.
Pushing children to work on their own goals from an early age will allow them to create a personalized learning method that will follow them throughout their lives.
How can we bring personalized learning into the classroom?
The first step towards personalized learning is integrating technologies students are already familiar with, be it tablets, laptops, or their own smartphones.
This will create a direct line of communication between the teacher and each student while also allowing the students to interact with each other outside of school hours.
Group projects are another great tool to initiate a class to personalized learning, using the different roles students need to take up as a way to assess what aspect of the learning process they are most drawn to (or more talented at).
Once the teacher has an understanding of their students’ strengths and weaknesses and the areas where they need more assistance, they can start creating customized work plans.
The best way for teachers to offer a work plan that adapts to each student needs without it requiring too much time would be to choose assignments that are flexible in nature.
For example, allowing students to submit a paper using the media they feel most comfortable with – be it in written form, as a video essay, or as a presentation to the class.
Creating several “layers” to a subject, allowing students to get deeper into it at their own pace, is also a simple way to personalize the learning experience.
Successful examples of personalized learning
Blogger Catlin Tucker wrote about the improvement she saw in her class when she started discussing the grading process with her students. By understanding what goes into their grade, and feeling allowed to participate in the conversation, students felt like they had a more active role in their grade. This boosted their motivation and prompted them to do better.
Rochester School District, NH participated in creating a guide on how to organize a learning plan in playlists, which allows students to supervise a students’ progress without having to be present.
Though some learning playlists are personalized they do not require to be, as their format is already quite flexible and allows students to work at their own pace.
Another method that has gained notoriety is flexible seating, which empowers students by keeping their comfort in mind. Flexible seating is a small change that can bring huge results, as most teachers who incorporated now swear by it.