Personalized Learning Environment – What Does That Mean?
Tonight I was able to attend my son’s Kindergarten concert. He goes to a Spanish Bilingual School that offers Kindergarten to Garde 4. There are six classes in each grade. So the Kindergarten concert looked like the School concerts that I remember when I was in school. The students each presented a song, dance or poem in Spanish. It was wonderful and the students were so excited to share their work. At the beginning of the recital the principal announced to the parents, “It is a current mandate of the Board of Education to promote personalized learning. Each of the student has worked hard to present their learning to you tonight.” I wondered, what was personal about reciting a poem? My son did recite one line with two other little friends, but I was still at a loss as to how this was “personalized” learning.
According to wikipedia (my new best friend), “Personalized Learning is the tailoring of pedagogy, curriculum and learning environments to meet the needs and aspirations of individual learners, often with extensive use of technology in the process.” Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Personalized_learning. In fact, although most of the definitions suggest that technology has a part of the learning, personalized learning can “just” mean that the teaching is meeting the specific individual needs to every student.
I thought that was what was happening already in public education? Why would we need technology?
In fact, by offering integrated technology options in school, the teacher would be able to cater to a student’s individual needs in many more ways. For example, if your child was strong in Math, they would be able to use technology to complete enrichment activities and possibly courses. Online courses could be taken to ensure that your child was taking the correct level of Math, instead of being held back with everyone else.
Another popular trend is Flipped Learning. If a teacher is “flipping” a classroom, they are asking the students to watch videos about the lessons ahead of time, and spending the class time doing the assignments and homework. Flipping the classroom is another example of Personalized Learning because by giving the content to the students ahead of time, the teacher can split the class into different groups and spend more time helping them undertsand their subject area.
These are just two examples of how technology can “personalize” a child’s learning. Start talking to your child about how their teachers are using technology to meet their individual leanring needs. What do they tell you?
Verena Roberts BEd, MA, TESL, MET – in progress
CEO- Chief Education Officer, www.GlobalEd.ca