[For the past seven years I’ve researched and investigated what personalized learning might mean. Here’s an Edsurge article that does an excellent job sharing a story of a Utah School that has taken personalized learning to a higher level than most schools. The article shares the pluses and minuses by looking at two brothers who have very different learning styles.]
Alex, 17, and Nicholas, 14, are brothers who attend Innovations Early College High School, a student-centered, personalized education school that is part of the Salt Lake City School District. It’s a very different place from a traditional high school. There is no standard bell schedule; instead, students can choose which of their classes they want to work on throughout the day, and when.
While it’s gaining popularity, there is still plenty of confusion among educators about what personalized learning looks like and how it works; there are numerous ways to implement it. Innovations High follows a flex model of blended learning; students complete most of their coursework online at their own pace, under the guidance of a classroom teacher. They also pursue offline projects and activities.
[You hear the term more and more, but what is “personalized learning?” There are companies that sell adaptive software that can personalize learning, but I subscribe to Kathleen McClaskey’s work where personalizing learning is a system where students take ownership for their learning based on their interests and empowered teachers build relationships with parents and community members to provide real-world experiences for that learning to take place. Here’s a story about a school in Wisconsin that has chronicled its journey and shares its success story.]
Guest Post by Liz Seubert and Paul Tweed, Directors of Wildlands School, Wisconsin It’s time people stop underestimating the power and intelligence of students. It’s time personalized learning is about the person, the learner, and all the possibilities within.
Most teachers would agree that they go into the profession wholeheartedly believing that students come first and every student deserves personalized learning. Yes! We agree. However, few seem to have an opportunity to put that philosophy into true action for one reason or another. Content, curriculum, state averages, standardized tests, school report cards, or whatever else government officials feel is important should not be driving education. But it seems to be.
[In this article by Paul Peterson and Michael Horn for Education Next, a publication from the Harvard Kennedy School, the authors tap into crowd-sourcing as well as experts to come up with the “ideal.” ]
As the use of technology in schools grows rapidly—whether in blended-learning environments, for project-based learning, or just because it’s the fad du jour—how much time students should spend learning on a computer is a point of contention. More and more people seem to agree that digital learning in K–12 classrooms works best when it is used with the oversight of a teacher. The chants of “teachers not technology” and “laptops for layoffs” increasingly appear to be relics of the past. A student can learn effectively via computer if an educator is around to assist and supplement, and teachers are realizing the power computers—properly used—have to enhance their craft.
But differences remain. The pessimists worry about students having too much screen time, about technology interfering with relationships between students and teachers, and about potential violations of privacy. Optimists contend that technology can personalize learning for each student; create more-engaging learning environments that free teachers to do what only humans can do well—provide empathy, understanding, and mentorship; and help students learn core knowledge to free up class time for projects and discussions.
So how should schools navigate these differences? What is the right balance of computer and teacher? How much time should students spend learning independently on a computer? To answer these questions, we did some carefully designed crowdsourcing of the sort for which Yelp and TV game shows have become famous. If you don’t know something, ask the audience. More often than not, the crowd, on average, will get pretty close to the right answer.