As the student population in the United States has grown more diverse, educators have looked for more effective ways to handle the growing diversity in the academic and language needs of their students. Personalized learning —tailoring instruction to each student’s unique needs and learning preferences —is one approach that is getting a lot of attention.
Since 2012, 15 states have implemented policies to support personalized learning, ranging from waiving regulations to setting up innovation zones. But how have schools implemented personalized learning?
In its implementation, personalized learning has taken a multitude of forms. Schools are taking very different approaches in how the curricular materials are used, how the classrooms are organized, how the data are used to group students, and how “mastery” of subject matter is defined.
The Benefits of Personalized Learning
The common elements shared by personalized-learning models are a greater focus on meeting individual student needs and, to a lesser extent, keeping students on pace with grade-level standards. The benefits of focusing on the individual student are:
- Students can work at their own pace on different subjects in the same classroom without impacting the learning of their peers. This allows a student to take the time to fully review and master a concept before moving on.
- Learning gaps can be closed between students when each student gets customized instruction. All students now have the ability to work at their highest personal level of achievement.
- Teachers and students are more fully engaged in the learning process. Students’ self-directed, independent learning allows teachers to have more one-on-one interactions with students. Teachers can take the time to talk with students, determine where they are academically, and tweak their learning plans so they can achieve maximum results.
The Barriers to Personalized Learning
Though personalized learning can have a tremendous positive impact on student learning and engagement, recent studies have shown that it is difficult to implement. Key issues that schools have encountered in implementing a personalized learning approach are:
- Individualized instruction is time-consuming for teachers. They have to do a lot of up-front preparation. Schools also have to devote a lot of time and resources to staff training and development as educators change their approach to teaching.
- Students struggle with being in charge of their own learning because they often have a steep learning curve when they have to manage their own time, set goals for themselves, and request support when they need it.
- There is no universal standard for what constitutes a personalized-learning curriculum. This makes it difficult to measure the effectiveness of any model.
The Victory Approach
How can learning products address these issues? Here at Victory, we have thought about how lessons for personalized learning can be structured and how students can be assessed. We’ve developed a lesson template that allows students to work independently and teachers to assess their learning. We’ve aligned the lesson to standards and built in formative assessments and performance-tasks. And, the lesson highlights critical thinking skills. Here’s more information on our lesson.
What are you doing with personalized learning? We’d love to know.