One thing about education as a profession—the grass is never allowed to grow under a teacher’s feet for very long. There’s always something new coming down the pike, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it does induce a kind of professional dizziness from time to time. Adapting to the “next new thing” is always a challenge, especially if it moves from the periphery onto the center stage in classroom practices. The most recent concept in education is personalized learning, not to be confused with differentiated instruction. Differentiated instruction addresses how lessons are delivered to students, based on their individual needs. Personalized learning is more complex.
In its purest form, personalized learning allows students to choose what they will study and to proceed at their own pace in meeting individual goals. Implementing it requires four instructional strategies, which are summarized in “Personalized Learning: A Working Definition”:
- Continual assessment as a student progresses toward “clearly-defined goals,” with the student advancing and earning credit after demonstrating mastery.
- Learning environments designed to meet students’ needs in reaching their goals.
- Customized “learning paths” based on each student’s progress, motivations, and goals.
- Up-to-date “learner profiles” that chart each student’s strengths, needs, motivations, and goals.
That’s a lot to do after taking attendance! Seriously, it’s a lot to do period, and the current demands of standardized testing make personalized learning seem like a classroom fantasy. It’s a great idea, though, so what can be done to personalize learning in a system based on covering a specific curriculum in a limited amount of time? Apparently, quite a bit, starting with learner profiles. Continue Reading ›