Facilitating a move away from grades and towards better learning is no easy feat. Educators are attempting to make the ambitious move through the use of technology, forming innovative movements that focus on accelerating student learning, and exposing the flaws of standardized testing. Rooted in the efforts of such teachers are the technology providers focused on personalizing the learning experience for every student. Adaptive systems like Fishtree are combining efforts with connected educators, focusing on a similar goal that foresees a shift from standardization to personalization.

1. From Regurgitation to Mastery

High-stakes testing generally promotes memorization and regurgitation as an accurate means of assessment. With no emphasis on mastery, students are urged to take a ‘copy and paste’ approach to learning, with no purpose in mind other than that of passing a test. Personalized platforms rather facilitate mastery of content, with systems like Fishtree allowing for demonstration of mastery following each learning objective. With personalized learning paths as opposed to exam schedules, students are allowed to advance at their own pace, and in a way that works for them, paving the way for better learning, and deeper insights.

2. From Synchronous to Self-Paced

Standardized testing instills the ideal of all students reaching learning goals at the same time, in advance of sitting an exam all at once, despite the widely accepted belief that “Every student can learn, just not on the same day, or in the same way” (George Evans). Adaptive systems are now creating a self-paced, personalized learning environment for students to progress in a way that suits them. Mobile capability means even more flexibility as students are afforded more time to meet demands, eliminating unrealistic expectations and unnecessary pressure, and facilitating better learning.

3. From Conformism to Innovation

Standardization has brought about a strict curriculum full of excessive demands, hindering student creativity and innovation. With pressure mounting, students react to education with hostility. Personalized learning environments encourage learning outside the curriculum, tailored to each individual as independent learning and creativity are infused in learning. With less of a fixation on test scores, personalization brings the focus back on learning and creating as focal to student development.

4. From Scheduled to Unlimited

With highly scheduled learning, students are continuously striving towards an exam. Viewing learning and exam preparation as one and the same, learning is constrained to class and school time. With mobile learning now offering students unlimited access to personalized resources and cloud-based lessons, at any time, any where, any pace, learning is beginning to break through the shackles of standardization, re-establishing its role in every aspect of student development.

5. From Struggling to Supported

‘Teaching to the test’ and state exams offer little in terms of insights, providing mere snapshots of student learning. For this reason, students are often left to their own devices, struggling to keep up the pace as educators strive to offer the right support, despite its lack of focus. Technology-aided personalized environments ensure constant support throughout student learning, along with real-time insights into how every student is progressing. With more answers as to how each student is performing, feedback is not only instantly available, it’s personalized for every student.

Like what you’ve read? Find out more about personalization over standardization with the 21st century learning platform, shifting the focus from grades to learning.

About the author:


Lorna Keane specializes in language teaching and has taught in second and third-level institutions in several countries. She holds a B.A in languages and cultural studies and an M.A in French literature, theory and visual culture. Follow her on Twitter or connect on LinkedIn.

Image credits: nguyentuanhung / CC BY 2.0