"Now that more engaging, student-centered methodologies have gained traction, students finally feel comfortable (and enthusiastic) with the idea of telling their teachers and administrators what they like and need."
Over the past decade, schools have increasingly embraced offering students voice and choice when it comes to their learning experiences. Many states have suggested or even mandated that their districts pursue personalized approaches. Unfortunately, the misconception has arisen that the transition towards personalized learning makes life harder than ever for teachers due to the perceived burden of needing to plan learning experiences for each student. This way of looking at personalized learning and student-centered learning management tools is deeply flawed, however.
The fact of the matter is that personalized learning tools are designed support teachers and administrators to improve their practice in ways that weren’t possible until now. One of the biggest potential impacts is in the area of student feedback. For decades, this has been an under-appreciated or even flatly dismissed data set when it comes to improving learner outcomes and school climate. However, students provide educators with the best, most organic assessments of how the school is operating because they are simultaneously both the “clients” and the “products.”
In the past, the organizational power structure of schools was an obstacle to getting meaningful, authentic feedback from students. That’s because classroom management was largely achieved through fear, punishment and the implicit threat of embarrassment. Now that more engaging, student-centered methodologies have gained traction, however, students finally feel comfortable (and enthusiastic) with the idea of telling their teachers and administrators what they like and need.
When teachers and administrators survey students to learn more about their personalities, learning styles, strengths, likes and dislikes, they streamline the process of adopting personalized learning principles significantly. This data can be used to inform individualized learning experiences, assessments and projects while also providing more holistic data about what motivates and excites each student. Many strong personalized learning toolkits include Learner Profile pages, where this information can be curated, updated and accessed at any time by teachers, students, parents or administrators.
Schools can also use a personalized learning management system to gather crucial data about the student body as a whole. Using customizable online surveys, administrators and teachers can ask students important questions about their experiences at school through an easy-to-use multiple choice interface. This data can directly inform both policy and instruction, but some toolkits provide even more advanced tools. Epiphany Learning, for example, distills this data into the M.E. Metric, which provides teachers and administrators with customizable data reports that reflect school climate, culture and the general health of the educational community.
When this grows into part of a weekly, biweekly or monthly routine, the data becomes powerful on a number of levels. First of all, it can track the overall growth and improvement of a class or school’s culture across any timeframe. Additionally, when soliciting, giving and analyzing honest, meaningful feedback become closely held values of a learning community, it deepens everybody’s level of thinking and keeps all stakeholders working towards creating the best possible system.
To learn more about how personalized learning tools can measure and track student engagement and motivation, schedule a demo of Epiphany Learning today!