What is Personalized Learning?
Great teachers already know that students have different learning styles and learn at different paces—what works for one student does not necessarily work for the rest of the class. Personalized learning offers a new vision for education—one in which students become the center of the learning environment, and where students and teachers work together towards students’ individual learning goals.
the promise of personalized Learning for students
David is a student about to start high school in Delaware. In middle school, his teachers passed him through each grade level even though he was not reading on grade level and had trouble understanding math concepts such as fractions. He has received additional support in the past few years to address these challenges, but he continues to struggle now that he is starting high school. Despite the best efforts of David and his teachers, he lacks the foundational skills to keep up with many of his peers. He is quickly becoming discouraged and unmotivated in school. In the current system, students such as David who enter high school far behind their peers academically are at a particular risk of dropping out before graduating, or graduating unready to pursue higher education or a meaningful career.
A competency-based learning program could help students like David, as well as benefit his classmates who are able to move more quickly through coursework. Competency-based learning ensures that students master specific skills and content before progressing to another unit or concept. For instance, some students may be able to demonstrate they understand and are able to use fractions within three days, while others might take a week or even two weeks to really understand the material and be able to demonstrate their understanding. With guidance and supports from educators, competency-based learning would ensure that students advance to new material when they are ready, at their own pace, whether they can move quickly or whether they need more time. While technology is not necessary for successfully adopting a competency-based program, using technology with teacher supervision can help facilitate students’ learning and assessment in a competency-based program.
WHY WE NEED PERSONALIZED LEARNING
With only eighty percent of Delaware students graduating from high school and more than half of Delawareans who enroll in Delaware public colleges requiring remedial coursework, it’s clear that the current system does not work for all students. Furthermore, Delaware students lag behind their peers in other states, with persistent achievement gaps between ethnic groups and students from different socioeconomic backgrounds, mirroring national trends.
The world is changing faster than ever, and we need to be sure that our students are prepared for a rapidly-changing environment once they leave school. Personalized learning and advancements in technology have the potential to empower students to take greater ownership over their learning and to empower teachers to personalize learning based on individual students’ needs. Personalized learning models encourage all students to grow to their full potential and leave school prepared for meaningful futures.