Let’s be honest; the idea of “personalized learning environments for all students” is nothing new. Past efforts to tailor learning pace, path, and interests have resulted in moderate successes, but its very difficult for one classroom teacher to provide an efficient and effective personalized learning experience to 20-30 students.
However, the recent advances of educational technology have finally put true personalized learning in reach. Furthermore, the integration of mobile learning (tablets and netbooks in the classroom, specifically in a 1:1 device-to-student ratio) is creating a seismic shift in our abilities to truly meet the learning needs of each and every student.
Below are four reasons properly executed mobile learning rollouts can turn your classroom into an amazing personalized learning experience!
1) A tailored curriculum for each student
By putting a tablet in the hands of every single student, educators are virtually able to give each student access to a personalized learning “center”. This means that teachers no longer have to broadcast knowledge to students and hope that it sticks. "Teaching to the middle," which hinders the learning of faster students and leaves slower learners behind, also goes out of the window.
With these amazing mobile devices, teachers become the facilitators of a child's learning environment. Guided by the classroom educator, tablets and netbooks can be a harbinger for collaboration, customized curriculum, and a litany of various resources that simply cannot exist on paper.
Additionally, when every student has access to a tablet, they can progress at their own pace. Because students will no longer be forced to keep one set pace, learning gaps are greatly reduced by the personalized content and experiences. In short, these devices allow teachers to quickly and effectively structure student-guided learning paths.
2) Instant access and real-time status updates
The wireless connectivity of classroom tablets and netbooks allows educators to receive real-time updates on a student's progress. These updates can be used as guidelines for what classroom activities and which lessons will be most conducive to the class learning structure.
Also, many of the newly-developed educational technology resources and content provide the teacher the ability to monitor, reinforce, or advance a student at the click of a button. This provides you, the educator, a variety of options, including the ability to see which students may need one-on-one assistance via a simple digital notification or the option to add extra enrichment to an excelling student’s learning path at the click of a button.
3) Unprecedented learning environment variability
The wireless connection options are not just limited to the classroom construct either. Depending on the scope of access allowed by the school and/or teacher, students can log-in and learn at home, at the library, and pretty much anywhere with open internet connectivity abilities.
Educators and students can also communicate throughout the day via discussion boards, collaborative documents, and tons of other awesome educational technologies, so any assignment updates from teachers or questions from students can be posted and receive responses instantly.
4) Individual communication and group collaboration options
While students are completing lessons, they can use their classroom tablets and notebooks to communicate any questions that they have to the teacher who can immediately respond. This wireless question and answer system gives the teacher the ability to provide noted support to individual students.
As basic skills are developed via effective educational technology, the teacher is provided with more valuable time to offer personal instruction assistance to the students who need it most. Suddenly, the large classroom setting becomes far more intimate and allows the teacher to use their experiences and skills to help each and every student receive the assistance and scaffolding they need to reach individual learning goals.
What do you think about the value of mobile learning in personalized learning?
It's important to note that tablets and notebooks are not the means of student learning. Instead, they serve as a jumping-off tool and an excellent resource for personalized learning. The key is for strong educators to recognize the advantages provided by mobile learning tools and to leverage them as a piece of their daily instruction.
Have you tried integrating educational technology, specifically tablets and netbooks, within your curriculum to increase your ability to personalize learning? If so, what are some of your positive and negative observations?