It’s difficult to deny the fact that striving to create a personalized learning environment within your classroom is a great method to help students achieve learning gains. In an ideal setting, we all certainly would like to personalize our instruction methods to meet the interests, preferences, and learning needs of each kid.
But here’s the catch: your resources (and wits) can quickly run thin when considering the process of personalizing the learning experience for each and every student while also taking account of the limited amount of time and resources you have to utilize with your group of 20-30 pupils.
When it’s all said and done, each student will be lucky to receive one minute of your time each day within a true personalized setting.
Thankfully, recent advances in educational technology have provided amazing solutions to make personalized learning a reality for today’s educators.
Taking back your "minutes" for valuable instruction
Administering assessments and progress checks that provide real-time information about a student’s learning levels is virtually impossible in the traditional classroom unless you want to start cutting further into the before-mentioned minute-per-student number. Even the best teachers struggle to obtain that level of awareness and understanding about their classroom.
Educational technology can help you balance the playing field, providing educators the resources to slide some of those “minutes” away from the process of identifying where a student is and towards utilizing the data and results to enhance individual achievement.
For instance, as a student works through an online curriculum solution, his or her interaction and participation is in a constant state of formative assessment. A smart combination of 'teacher-made curriculum alterations' and 'automatic curriculum assignments' helps each student receive lessons and learning that addresses learning gaps or challenges advanced students.
Essentially, the students are given the reinforcement and/or enrichment they require to stay engaged and meet needed learning levels, either automatically and/or at the click of the educator’s finger. Think of it as a “lesson playlist” like the playlists you have on your iPod or MP3 player!
Expanding small group and 1-on-1 instruction time
For decades, teachers have relied on worksheets and other basic knowledge activities to extend student “learning time” while they perform other daily tasks or branch off to assist struggling students. As much as you’d like to avoid assigning worksheets and “busy work”, it sometimes becomes a necessary evil. Often times, these activities cause students to lose engagement, which can present classroom management issues as the class becomes board or distracting to others.
The proper EdTech solutions can serve as your twenty-first century’s version of worksheets, but more importantly, these solutions ensure the student is engaged and learning at the pace and difficulty that suits them best.
It’s important to note that this ideal does not only apply to a 1:1 device-to-student ratio. If your classroom only has a few computers or digital devices, you can simply form rotation groups. As one group is working online, the other students are available for direct instruction at more manageable ratios than whole-class.
With this in mind, seek educational technology that allows you to track and manage the learning experience of the individual student, as they make the rotation between online learning and offline learning.
Leveraging actionable reporting and progress measures
Sure, some classes and schools have seen success via blended learning models that require minimal teacher interaction, but in most personalized learning environments, teachers must retain input and reasonable control of a student’s next step(s) to ensure achievement and progress. Luckily, by doing your homework, you can add effective educational technology that keeps the teacher’s autonomy in mind to your daily instruction methods.
Concurrently, by seeking and utilizing educational software/ technology that is designed with the teacher’s everyday experience in-mind, you can retain autonomy while also expanding your ability to personalize your students’ curriculum and learning path.
Depending on how and when your students learn via the selected online learning platform(s), performance and progress data is constantly being collected and organized into robust and valuable reports that you, the classroom educator, can use to better inform in-person instruction.
Say in your daily report, you notice a trend where the majority of the class is still struggling with a concept previously covered during whole-class instruction a couple of weeks ago. With your new resources and tools, you can quickly adjust the next few lessons to schedule a quick refresher on that topic, while also tying it back to the deeper concepts.
Where do you see EdTech's role within your personalized learning efforts?
Educational technology can help you personalize learning, but when it all shakes down, the teachers and educators that are in the classroom everyday with the students are the true definers of the process. In essence, EdTech is a piece of the puzzle, not the example of how to complete the puzzle.
We'd love to hear how you use any aspects of educational technology to enhance personalized learning experiences in your classroom! Comment below or visit our join the conversation on our Facebook page or Tweet us at @Wowzers!