Personalization: A personalized learning environment is much like an individualized learning environment where each learner receives a custom-tailored learning experience. However, in a personalized scenario, the teacher is no longer the sole driver of instruction – each learner now collaborates with the teacher to drive his or her learning, with the students taking a hands-on role in determining their own needs and informing the design of their lessons.
Personalization is an incredibly powerful model because it creates a continual feedback loop between the teacher and student and empowers students to take charge of their education. And once students have the ability to take control of their own academic journey, they begin to adopt a “growth mindset,” as they continue to practice, make mistakes and learn from their mistakes – with the added benefit of strengthening 21st century skills, empowering student voice and choice and preparing them to embrace what it means to own their learning outside of the school environment.
Drawing on Technology to Empower Personalization
Now, as you may have noticed, none of these three approaches necessarily requires technology to execute. However, recent advances in ed-tech have made these approaches significantly more scalable, especially when it comes to personalization.
Personalized learning in particular allows for a greater degree of student-centered personalization. By leveraging ongoing formative assessment, documenting progress through student-learning portfolios and facilitating meaningful conferences between the student and teacher, adaptive learning technology provides the pathway for personalization, giving students more opportunity to truly shape their learning journey.
That’s not to say that technology is a silver bullet. There’s no program that will suddenly empower teachers and students alike to succeed at scale without any adjustments to classroom setup and workflow.
Ultimately, schools and districts implementing new technology initiatives need to be proactive not only about driving change for their students, but they also have to be focused on supporting their teachers. To ensure success for teachers and their students, teachers need robust professional development opportunities to learn the most effective ways to use technology and personalization in the classroom.
Successful implementation will always depend on teacher understanding and buy-in, and implementation models will vary vastly.
But the power of personalized learning cannot be denied; and ultimately, it offers an incredible opportunity to achieve the meaningfully customized classrooms that excellent teachers have always imagined and that students deserve.
Differentiation and individualization have both proven their merit, but true personalization for every student, powered by adaptive learning technology now allows us to deliver it at scale.