By the Eduspire Blog Team
But what’s really missing is the what: What tools or delivery methods make personalized learning a reality and not just a lofty goal?
Many schools and teachers want to try personalized learning, but don’t know which tools and resources are available to them in order to make it happen.
Instead of walking away with your hands in the air, assuming it’s impossible, use these tips and tools to test your ideas and learn from trial and error.
Personalized Learning: The Set-Up
The role of today’s teacher has changed. No longer is the teacher intended to be the sole expert and authority on learning. It is now understood that learning is more natural, more practical, and more meaningful when it is interactive, when conversations happen, and when students play an equal role in deciding what and how they want to learn.
With personalized learning, this shift is even more important. Teachers must cater lessons, resources and homework to what the student needs to learn at their best.
Mass-Customized Learning (MCL)
Mass customization is all around us—never before have we had so many choices. We can customize what we see, hear, and listen to, what we read, eat, drink, and wear. Yet education has been slow to adopt a customized approach to learning.
As authorities on Mass-Customized Learning, Bea McGarvey and Chuck Schwahn, point out, “MCL is a new and exciting vision for education that uses today’s powerful mass customizing technology to meet the personal learning needs of every learner every hour of every day.”
Of course, there are many different learning models that invoke the concept of Mass-Customized Learning in order to achieve transformational change. The T.I.E. Network, an organization focused on technology and innovation in education, calls MCL an “Empowerment Learning Model” which permits educators to “mass customize learning to meet individual learning needs based on what we know about student motivation and learning.”
You may also be interested in learning more about the Continuum of Self-Efficacy Approach introduced by Barbara Bray and Kathleen McClaskey.
Use the following techniques to take your role of learning guide to the next level while foster an environment of Mass-Customized Learning.
An inquiry-based learning approach is the process of simply allowing students to explore the things they want to know about. Survey students to uncover topics of interest and areas of need, and find ways to link them to content and curriculum standards while creating exercises to flex underdeveloped learning muscles.
Providing options for projects, topics, and self-grading while assessing understanding in a way that gives some anonymity sets the stage for student-centered learning as opposed to teacher-driven instruction.
Check out Eduspire’s 3-credit graduate-level PD course for teachers interested in learning how to implement an inquiry-based approach in their classrooms, with Using Inquiry for Student Collaboration and Engagement (EDKU 9099).
This fusion of common curriculum topics and an open-ended approach, in which students to choose their content and project style while expanding learning into their communities, promotes real-life skills and learning outside the classroom.
Other Personalized Learning Techniques
Other hot topics in the tech-influenced realm of customized learning include Flipped Classroom instruction, curriculum re-evaluation, and qualitative formative assessment tools. But since we could go on forever about each of those, let’s jump to the fun stuff: technology.
These are the top ten educational tech tools to facilitate personalized learning in the classroom of, according to Eduspire’s network of instructors.
Google Classroom: A member of the Google Apps for Education suite of services that helps teachers create and organize assignments quickly, provide feedback efficiently, and easily communicate with their classes
FlexTime Manager: Students choose teacher-scheduled activities with effortless principal management, providing students and faculty alike with voice and choice, minus the administrative headaches.
GameUp by BrainPop: The games include math, science, social studies, and health.
Explain Everything: This is 5-star (Teacher-rated!) powerhouse tool for creating stellar multimedia presentations, promoting design skills, collaboration, and productivity.
WeLearnedIt: This is a digital portfolio and classroom management tool for project-based classrooms that promotes communication, collaboration, productivity, and tech skills.
Goalbook Toolkit: Set targets and establish strategies based on specific learning and differentiation goals with this personalized learning tool.
DIY: Design, build, and share both online and offline to promote creativity and critical thinking skills.
Newsela: Have students read news stories, personalized by Lexile level. This website facilitates differentiation within multiple subject areas while supporting curriculum and providing reference material.
Green Screen by Do Ink: This versatile, easy-to-use movie-maker develops creativity and tech skills while fostering an appreciation of the design process and the arts
iMovie: This pro-quality HD movie-maker is easy to use, scalable by activity level, and provides endless presentation possibilities
Embracing the Methodology Behind Personalized Learning
Personalized learning is a methodology, not just a set of goals, where the perspective is inclusive of the students instead of being decided solely by the curriculum or the teacher.
Using the tools available to adjust not only to student skill levels and interests, but also to what motivates them, is more than differentiating and implementing a new way of learning—it’s empowering students by giving them choices.
When the culture of the classroom shifts from an academic, task-completion setting to one where students are identifying learning goals and viable routes for achieving them, a wide variety of opportunities present themselves.
Educators who embrace this mentality and strive for this type of transformational change in the classroom become so much more than teachers—their influence transcends school walls and begins to shape students’ lifelong learning journeys.