"Personalized Learning... removes the need to 'teach the room' entirely and instead encourages teachers and students to work together to identify the knowledge, skills and access points that will be most valuable and engaging for each individual learner."
Increasingly, schools and districts around the country are beginning to explore the fundamentals of personalized learning. However, many teachers, administrators, parents and even students are concerned about how this transition toward student-centered learning will change the way school looks and operates. For those still on the fence about personalized learning, here are two key reasons personalized learning is guaranteed to deliver results and produce college-and-career-ready students.
Personalized Learning Ensures Each Student Maximizes His or Her Time
Here’s a classic classroom conundrum: how do you teach a room of 20+ heterogeneously grouped students with various interests, ability levels and challenges? For years, teachers have sought the silver bullet - the perfect pedagogy that will help each student grow and improve in ways that are meaningful from them - but most experienced educators will tell you that it’s nearly impossible for any lesson or project to engage and challenge all learners.
Personalized Learning, on the other hand, removes the need to “teach the room” entirely and instead encourages teachers and students to work together to identify the knowledge, skills and access points that will be most valuable and engaging for each individual learner. At first, this sounds like a lot of additional work, but it’s really just a different kind of work and a different way of approaching education. Once each student has personalized goals in place and understands his or her strengths and needs effectively, the value of school becomes more purposeful and transparent to even the most reluctant learner. In this way, personalized learning helps teachers and students identify specific, targeted needs to build buy-in and create a course of learning that ensures each student maximizes his or her time in school.
Personalized Learning Takes the Unhealthy Competition Out of School
Remember when your teacher passed back those quizzes and told you “Only worry about your own score”? What did everybody do immediately? Begin sharing scores, of course! That’s because our entire traditional education system is inherently competitive. As soon as you start standardizing work, you invite competitive comparison, and that kind of competition - or more precisely, the anxiety that that kind of competition creates - is actually damaging to the learning process. When students are worried they will be near the bottom of the class on an assignment or unit, it’s an immediate trigger to disengage.
Personalized learning removes this obstacle to success by eliminating the aspects of classroom life that encourage counter-productive competition. Under a personalized learning system, a room of 20 students might be working on 20 different assignments or reading 20 different texts. This removes the apples-to-apples comparison that encourages students to create an unhealthy hierarchy and reminds everyone that their work truly is the only one they should be concerned with. Personalized learning helps transform a culture where students learn competitively with the extrinsic goals of high grades and superior classroom status to a culture where students are intrinsically motivated to grow in ways that are relevant to them for the sake of self-improvement and future success.