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Preetham Shetty lists down a few tips for school jumpstarting personalised learning

Personalised learning is not a product you can buy — it’s a set of strategies that teachers can implement, sometimes with the help of products that are designed to support those strategies, opines Michael Feldstein, co-producer of e-Literate TV. According to the online Glossary of Education Reform (2015), personalised learning is “a diverse variety of education programmes, learning experiences, instructional approaches, and academic support strategies that are intended to address the distinct learning needs, interests, aspirations, or cultural backgrounds of individual students.”

Educational products can’t be efficacious or not. Learning interventions can. What matters in learning is the educational micro-interventions the products support in the larger context of the macro-intervention that we call “The Class”. 

The distinction between adaptive learning and personalised learning, between a tool and a teaching technique, is necessary to the basic logic that enables us to understand how the various parts of any teaching intervention work together to make a difference.

WHY PERSONALISED LEARNING?

It’s always good to start with your purpose. Why is the idea of personalisation appealing for your students, your faculty, your school? What is your vision for personalisation? If your school focused significantly on personalising learning for several months, what would an observer see after that time that he or she wouldn't see now?

CURRICULUM & PERSONALISATION

When personalised learning is implemented through digital learning platforms that adapt to students’ varied paces of learning in Mathematics, for example, students move through a prescribed Mathematics curriculum on varied timeline with varied supports. In between these extremes of prescribed and individualised curriculums, formats like project-based learning, flipped learning and independent study often provide students with varying amounts of choice.

It is also unwise to assume that any model will work for learners of all ages, in all subjects. Administrators and teachers should ponder how they know they are choosing the most appropriate audience(s) for their preferred approach to personalised learning. Is the form of personalisation you are considering appropriate for all K-12 learners? Middle school? High school? Is it productive in all subjects? Most effective if used all day, or only in certain classes?

To have both old and new paradigms co-exist, the way forward is likely to be smoother if teachers volunteer to implement an approach. If teachers can opt in or out, is it acceptable for all second grade teachers to volunteer but only half of the third grade teachers? Will it work if the Mathematics department signs on but the Science department doesn’t?

DIFFERENTIATED INSTRUCTION

Differentiated Instructions (DI) is a philosophy that acknowledges that students learn in different ways and at different paces. The differentiation is responsive teaching where teachers proactively plan varied approaches to what different groups of learners need to learn, how they will learn it, and how they will show what they have learned.

Differentiated Instructions benefit students because it promotes an environment in which learning differences are not only tolerated, they are valued. Every child comes with different talents, abilities and motivation levels. You can use DI for Remediation (Re-Teach), Intervention (Re-Enforce), Enrichment, Extensions.

Teachers can differentiate at least four classroom elements based on student readiness, interest, or learning profile:

Content: what the student needs to learn or how the student will get access to the information

Process: activities in which the student engages in order to make sense of or master the content

Products: culminating projects, assignment that ask the student to rehearse, apply, and extend what he or she has learned in a unit and

Learning environment: the way the classroom works and feels

SUPPORT TEACHERS NEED

What will teachers have to know, understand, and be able to do to feel confident and be competent in guiding successful personalisation? It will be key to identify what new learning teachers need to move from regimented time blocks, prescribed pacing guides, and the like to helping students establish their own goals, craft their own objectives, and design their own assessment criteria.

Rethink curriculum, instruction style and assessment: To ensure success, educators should consider an extended timeline for the implementation of the personalised programme making sure that curriculum aligns with new standards and thinking. One important aspect of this is adaptive learning, where the material adapts to the level of the student. Additionally, imbibing new style of delivering modules and assessment will also add value.

Provide educators the same personalised learning opportunities: For educators, to provide students with an advance learning methods, for their professional development they should use the same technology and learning methods for themselves. It is recommended that educators use online programmes and other modern educational certification courses.

Additional IT costs: Implementing a digital learning initiative requires good investments in new devices and tools. The same implementation can be taken care on timely basis to save costs on future buying’s or investments.

Web-based guidance system: Implementing technology tools in the classroom gives greater access to materials, helps teachers personalised classes and also provides a medium for students to be more interactive. A good web based system is equally important for classroom sessions.

Embrace differentiated instruction: Since every student learns differently, there should be different ways of approaching projects. Involving students with different approach for their personalised learning is the key for an effective session. While teacher observation is important for guidance, it is critical that students are given options for what and how they learn.

(The writer is MD and co-founder, Ekin Knowledge). 

 
 
 

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