When we first adopted [our personalized learning system], I was pretty hesitant about the idea of giving my students free reign to direct their own learning. I’m a control freak that wants things to go a certain way, and I was afraid that students wouldn’t learn as much if I wasn’t in control. But I’m also a risk-taker and I like trying new stuff, so I decided to give it a try even though it was scary. The kids rose and exceeded my expectations. It was really cool to see how engaged they were. Now I feel like I’m finally able to address their needs, and I can focus not just on filling skill gaps, but on teaching them how to learn. [emphasis added]
So says Sophia Thomas, a teacher at a school in California that helped to shape a personalized learning system for their school, in Connecting Ed & Tech (July 2016) by Thomas Arnett for the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation.
While we are still working on shared vision of what is meant by the term Personalized Learning, it is important to remember that a shift to personalized learning will also mean a shift to personalized teaching. From an educational technology perspective, this means finding (or developing) systems, platforms and tools that can be used across a wide array of grade levels and classrooms in ways that are adaptable to the different needs and strengths of each teacher to meet the different needs and strengths of each learner.
Just as we continue to move away from a one-size-fits-all approach to learning, we continue to move away from a one-size-fits-all approach to using technology in your classroom. All of the hard work and professional learning that has been put in by teachers in the area of EdTech already – from 1:1 laptops to iPads in classrooms to Office 365 & new horizons for collaboration – can be leveraged in so many different ways to help all of our students learn. Combined with all of the experience and expertise our teachers possess in the areas of assessment, classroom practice, unit planning – along with a continued commitment to reflection and improvement – we are well positioned to journey along the path towards personalized learning. As reflected in the quote above, it can possibly be scary and maybe even uncomfortable for the teachers, but the students will undoubtedly rise above and beyond our expectations!