Building a personalized learning environment depends on far more than simply finding the technology. First, it requires a change of mindset. From “sage on the stage” to “guide on the side”, from instructor-led to student-led, and from synchronous to self-paced, a personalized learning environment moves the focus from educator to learner, tailoring the learning experience to meet the different needs and aspirations of every single student. Technology comes into the mix as a tool to help educators achieve this. According to the Educause Learning Initiative, a PLE requires easy access to both people and resources, combining tools, communities and services in an environment that’s flexible, collaborative and personalized.

What are the first steps?

Once a plan has been devised of what role you want technology to play in your personalized learning environment, ensuring the right devices are in place for your students takes priority. The next step is finding the right software to sit within these devices, specifically built to aid you in your efforts to create a PLE. Adaptive learning platforms like Fishtree were created with personalized learning in mind first and foremost. Providing an all-in-one solution for a PLE, Fishtree makes it as simple as possible to implement, ensuring a learner-centric environment that provides endless personalized resources, individualized paths, and support.

5 Key Features of Personalized Learning Systems:

1. Personalization

It goes without saying that the right system for a PLE is one that integrates personalization. With the power to generate their own personalized resources that meet students’ needs, styles, and abilities, progressing along individualized learning paths, at a pace and setting tailored to them, implementing a PLE has never been easier. Within a flexible environment that’s customized to suit each learner, students are engaged and motivated to reach their goals in a way, and at a pace, that’s easily achievable for them.

2. Analytics

In a personalized learning environment, students and educators simply won’t get the outcomes they want without analytics. For those unfamiliar with the concept, learning analytics essentially provide the insights into how students are progressing, where they are in terms of reaching their goals, and where support or intervention may be required. The success of a PLE depends largely on these insights as students embarking on different learning paths at different paces becomes impossible to track on a manual basis. With the continuous overview of student progress that learning analytics offer, educators are afforded the right answers, and students are awarded the right support.

3. Competency-Based Assessment

Assessment of learning can be difficult to pursue within a personalized learning environment. Systems that incorporate competency-based progression ensure every learner masters each objective by assessing their understanding at each turn. With continuous support at hand, and a facility to retake assessments and generate extra resources, students can demonstrate mastery at a personalized pace, according to their needs.

4. Social media

PLEs mean more independent learning and more critical thinking, but their success relies heavily on collaboration. A major component of the five C’s of 21st century education, collaboration plays a key role in each student’s progress. With adaptive systems that include a social media facility, each student’s PLE is brought to new heights with the ability to share and interact with peers and teacher within the context of each lesson. Using initiative to generate their own resources, students can follow their personalized learning paths, sharing their findings and collaborating with teacher and peers as they reach towards mastery.

5. Mobility

Successful PLEs require as much flexibility as possible. By using mobile technology to implement your personalized learning environment, students are afforded the luxury of accessing their lessons and resources at any time, embarking on their learning paths from any place, at any pace. With the cloud-based features that adaptive systems like Fishtree include, student work is readily available, and easily accessible.

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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: K.W. Barrett / CC BY 2.0