A recent study on personalized learning carried out by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation identified 4 key elements that formed the most effective personalized learning practices. The study which involved 23 public charter schools, 5,000 students, and 2 years of implementation discovered extensive benefits of personalized learning including significant increases in student achievement, and more positive working and learning environments. The impressive results were found to hover directly around 4 key ingredients, which proved to deliver the best personalized learning solutions.
#1. Learner Profiles
Within the personalized learning environment, emphasis is placed on understanding each and every student. Learner profiles offer deep insights into “each student’s individual strengths, needs, motivations, progress, and goals”, in an effort to provide the best possible solutions. Adaptive systems like Fishtree provide learner profiles tailored to the individual that add to each student’s Learning DNA. These personalized profiles provide portals for educators to get to know every single student on a personal level, with the system providing resources tailored to each one.
#2. Personalized Learning Paths
With personalized learning paths, “each student follows a customized path that responds and adapts based on his or her learning progress, motivations, and goals.” This allows students to engage in independent learning, through a tailored learning experience. Fishtree identifies personalized learning paths for each student, offering tailored resources along the way, with consistent support guiding them towards mastery of each objective. Each path is clearly identifiable by students and teacher, offering a deeper understanding of progress and performance.
#3. Competency-Based Progression
Competency-based progression involves a process whereby “each student’s progress toward clearly defined goals is continually assessed.” This ensures mastery of skills and competencies as students progress upon demonstration of proficiency, as opposed to measurement of seat time. Fishtree provides this type of progression by allowing students to advance to the next learning objective upon demonstration of mastery, with personalized resources where necessary to help them succeed.
#4. Flexible Learning Environment
Within personalized learning practices, “student needs drive the design of the learning environment.” With this in mind, the learning process rotates around students reaching their goals according to their own pace, needs, and interests. Adaptive platforms ensure a flexible approach that works around students with a mobile system that offers tailored resources and assessments. Educators are then free to adjust teaching methods to incorporate flipped, blended and mobile learning to meet the needs of every student.
Combining all four key ingredients, the personalized learning environment is proven to be increasingly productive for both students and teachers. The research also highlights the widespread use of student data to accurately identify student needs and offer adequate support, with 79% of teachers receiving weekly data about students achieving mastery. By converting to a 1:1 environment, educators and students alike can benefit from a more supportive working environment, guaranteed to boost student achievement and morale. Those who have made the conversion are asking: Is there a better place to teach and learn?
About the author:
Lorna Keane is a teacher of French, English and ESL. She 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.