Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Making it Personal(ized)

Download free ebook @ ISTE
Personalized learning, as a teaching approach, is gaining a lot of traction in the education community. In fact, the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) just published an ebook on the topic. You can download a free copy of Personalized Learning: A Guide for Engaging Students with Technology, or you can purchase a hard copy. Either way, it is a great read on the what, the how, and the why of personalized learning.

I find it easier to understand personalized learning when I start with a compare/contrast with individualized learning. Individualized learning, which is fundamental to good teaching, focuses on the instructional needs of students. Personalized learning is an approach designed to go beyond individualized learning and to include learning activities which consider students' interests, goals, and styles of learning.

The authors of the ISTE book describe personalized learning as, "An invitation for educators to create opportunities for learning that take advantage of the digital skills most students already possess. Personalized learning is specifically tailored to each student's strengths, needs, and interests while ensuring the highest standards possible. This approach is a major paradigm shift from the traditional "one-size-fits-all" approach to education. Personalization encourages educators to be more flexible, so that students can become more invested in designing their own personal learning paths. Students engaged in personalized learning at their various paces are given access to tools and feedback that motivate them to capitalize on their unique skills and potential."

In practice, personalized learning requires several things to be in place:
1. Students need ready access to computing devices.
2. IT needs the capacity to ensure a wireless infrastructure that is ready and robust.
3. Teachers need ongoing high-quality professional development.
4. Teachers and students need easy access to high-quality digital materials.

One example of matching high-quality digital resources to student interests and needs is the way Riverside Unified School District (RUSD) has adopted the use of Gooru LearningThe Gooru Learning web application allows teachers to create and share collections of high-quality web resources with their students and with other teachers. Supported by powerful partners (Google, CISCO, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and others), Gooru's pledge is to be free forever. RUSD has recently partnered with Gooru to help kickstart RUSD's personalized learning initiative. RUSD's vision of personalized learning is to, "Prepare students to become purposeful contributors to a global society through learning experiences that promote student ownership of the path and pace of their education." Part of their approach is to develop personalized learning plans featuring vetted digital materials place into topic-centered collections by teachers. 

Ancient Civilizations Gooru collection
Ms. Smith teaches ancient civilizations for RUSD. She has used Gooru to create collections on the topic of early Egyptian civilization. Those collections include documents, images, videos, questions, webpages, and interactives. She can then assign all or some of a collection to all or some of her students. Additionally, other teachers from RUSD (or from anywhere!) can assign the same collection or make a copy of it and customize it for their own students. 

Riverside Unified understands the power of personalization. RUSD teachers are learning that, like the ISTE ebook explains, "When used correctly, the technologies and techniques of personalized learning allow for greater autonomy, engagement, individualization, and differentiation than ever before, while giving students more active, responsible roles in their own learning.

Dennis Large
educator & learner

1 comment: