According to education thought leaders Kathleen McClaskey and Barbara Bray, personalized learning occurs when learners take charge of and actively participate in the design of their own learning.
“Learners who own their learning are intrinsically motivated to learn and succeed,” state the founders of Personalize Learning on their website. The pair, who developed a chart comparing personalization to differentation and individualization, also believe that “personalizing learning is the key design element to transform education.”
If you’ve been thinking about transforming your own classroom in this manner, we’ve provided 10 quick ideas to get you started with personalized learning.
1. Give students a voice and choice regarding what they want to learn, and how they want to show what they know. Rather than requiring all students to submit written assignments, give them the option to submit a video, drawing, song or other evidence of learning.
2. Give specific, positive, actionable feedback to students using their preferred method of communication (video, audio or text). They will appreciate the individual attention and will be more motivated to act on your suggestions.
3. Use beginning big questions or exit slips to gauge student understanding either before or after a lesson to ensure you address specific needs during the coming lesson.
4. Identify students who are struggling to meet learning objectives and assign students activities for reinforcement. If your learning platform has learning objectives reports and a recommendation engine to assign activities, most of this process can be automated (with the teacher approving all activities assigned, of course).
5. Work with students to create Individualized Learning Plans (ILP’s) for tracking personal growth or senior projects. Plans can include skills, goals, task tracking, reflections and feedback from mentors. If your learning platform allows, progress can be automatically communicated to students, teachers, parents and mentors via their dashboard.
6. Allow students to use e-portfolios and blogs to reflect, take ownership and foster a lifelong love of learning.
7. Encourage students to create rather than just consume by empowering them to develop portions of a lesson, surveys, or even a test! Research shows that students who create their own tests score higher than those who do not (Dylan Wiliam, Cambridge Assessment Network Keynote, 2006).
8. Help familiarize students with productivity tools such as the personal dashboard in their learning platform. Task blocks that pull in aggregated lists of student tasks, assignments, due dates and status can keep them on track. Options to personalize their dashboard’s look and feel with graphical themes, or add/remove blocks such as course listings and Individual Learning Platform progress can further encourage students to manage their own learning.
9. Encourage peer-to-peer assessment through the use of discussion boards, or pre-flight checklists where one student evaluates another’s project using a set of defined criteria.
10. Personalize who has access to which assignments based on student needs by using groups and permissions in your learning platform. For example, you may want to assign advanced students a different set of assessment questions or assignments than you would for students who need extra help in grasping basic concepts.