- Personalized learning is an exciting approach to education, but it can be difficult to implement without the right tools in place.
- By giving students the ability to choose their learning path, personalized learning supports stronger engagement.
- A robust communications and collaboration solution can facilitate personalized learning.
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Before 2016, the Belmont-Cragin Elementary School in Chicago had a problem. There was a huge achievement gap among their students. Some students were mastering grade level material, while many were not. One classroom had a wide range from the 7th to the 70th percentile.
To solve this problem, the school partnered with a nonprofit to boost its personalized learning approaches. They wanted to help teachers bring weaker students up to grade level, without slowing down stronger students.
Teachers worked together with coaches and educational communication platforms to perfect their craft. They discovered many things. For example, only 20 percent of struggling students were receiving additional lessons. Ed tech helped the school learn this and readjust their strategy.
What is personalized learning?
Personalized learning is a powerful new approach to education. It emphasizes students’ own decisions about their own education. It lets them choose what they learn, and at what pace.
This approach can be difficult to manage with a large class of students. Fortunately, new ed tech technology is making it easier. Communications platforms are helping make personalized learning more popular.
Benefits of personalized learning
Personalized learning offers several benefits. It does all of the following:
- Moves students along at their own pace
- Allows students to take initiative over their own education
- Gives students tech skills
- Helps students learn from each other
- Sidesteps problems with standardized tests
- Prepares students for new economy
Every student has their own strengths and weaknesses. Some may quickly grasp a math concept, but slowly grasp some rules of grammar. Others may soak up science like a sponge, but fail to get history right.
The pace of learning isn’t the same for one student all the time, let alone a full classroom of students. Allowing students to learn at their own pace gives them the option of learning more where they excel, and taking more time where they struggle.
When students move at their own pace, this cuts down barriers between students of different skill levels. In traditional classrooms, it is not uncommon for one set of talented students to outpace the others, grow bored, and become distracted. Other students may struggle and give up. They then think of each other as different for that reason. Personalized learning reduces this problem by allowing all students to learn at their own pace.
There are two ways to motivate people: intrinsic motivation and extrinsic motivation.
Extrinsic motivation is when someone is motivated to complete a task for reasons unrelated to the task itself. For example, working an unpleasant job just to get paid is extrinsic motivation.
Intrinsic motivation is when someone is motivated to complete a task simply because they like the task and its results. For example, creating a painting because of the love of the craft is intrinsic motivation.
Students perform best when they are intrinsically motivated. They don’t need any extra pushing or prodding. They are willing to go the extra mile to learn something new.
Personalized learning makes students intrinsically motivated to learn. Instead of being told what to learn, they can choose their own path out of a set of options. Because what they choose is personally meaningful to them, they have intrinsic motivation to succeed.
Personalized learning is easier and more effective than ever thanks to modern ed tech. Students can use collaboration software like Google Docs or communication software like RingCentral. Ed tech helps students practice learning and working in a technological setting.
Ed tech helps students prepare for future careers, too. Work is rapidly shifting toward online work and virtual collaboration. It resembles the sort of activities that students in personalized learning experience.
This might sound counterintuitive. After all, if students are pursuing their own paths, aren’t they learning less from each other?
This is not the case for several reasons. Students do choose their own path in personalized learning classes. But their path can still overlap with other students. This creates opportunities for collaboration and peer review.
With personalized learning, students can also teach or present their knowledge to the class. This is an excellent way for students to prove their learning. It also widens the breadth of topics explored in the classroom, because each student can effectively explore a new avenue of learning.
Standardized tests are ubiquitous in modern-day schools. Their efficacy, however, is questionable:
- Not all students prove their knowledge best on tests. Some may do better with essays, presentations, or creative projects.
- Standardized tests create incentives for teachers to “teach to the test.” This means that they don’t go beyond the basic curriculum, and force all students to think exactly alike.
Personalized learning sidesteps these problems. When students are allowed to choose how to prove their learning, they may choose an alternative method. For example, they could make a presentation or creative project. Also, where there is no single test, there is no teaching to the test.
The new economy developing in the 21st century is not a “one-size-fits-all” economy. While in the past people had successful careers in a single company, it is now very common for people to move around a lot in their career. The old metaphor was the “career ladder”; now, people talk about the “career jungle gym.”
In order to fit into the needs of the new economy, workers have to be prepared to forge their own path. This is exactly what personalized learning encourages. Students in a personalized learning setting will learn how to assess their own strengths and weaknesses to decide their own path.
Let RingCentral power your personalized learning initiative
Personalized learning is a powerful new approach to education. It prepares students to flourish in the modern economy. It teaches them valuable technology, social, and self-reflective skills. With the use of ed tech like RingCentral, teachers can easily manage a classroom of personalized learners.
RingCentral provides a robust communications and collaboration platform that helps schools improve their communications with educators, students, and parents. Its strong collaboration tools enable personalized learning at scale. Get a demo today to see how it works.
Originally published Jan 25, 2022