Every student is different. Every student has their own needs, has their own strengths, and learns in a different way. Personalized learning is a broad term used to describe a learning plan that is different for each student based on their needs. 

There are many terms used like individualized instruction, personal learning environments, and direct instruction are all synonymous for personalized Education.  [1]

Fans of personalized learning, believe that learning is based on student’s prior knowledge. This means that every student’s learning journey is different, because their background knowledge is different.

The proponents say that teachers need to allow time for students to practice the skills they are learning. The role of the teacher in this type of classroom is more of a facilitar assessing student learning against defined standards. They make their main lessons beneficial to their entire classroom, then let their students work on lessons that are beneficial to their learning goal. [2]

This seems like a great idea. But when does personalized learning become too personal?

Because the current definition of personalized learning is so broad and encompassing, it is hard to navigate the exact types of learning may be happening in America’s classroom.

personalized learning

Ms. Jones may use personalized learning in her classroom, that is a simple exercise management system. A student takes an initial computer test over the subject, then practice the same types of problems that were incorrect on the test. These are learning platforms that are computerized so the students stay engaged.

On the other hand, some personalized learning systems are very complex with complicated algorithms, much like some big named companies are using in the commercial sector to find products to suggest for us, based on our computer usage. They are major privacy concerns with this type of data mining , but it exists on a large scale with students.

In order for more in depth personalized products many “educational computer products” use student data mining. To create a plan for their customers. Some companies used teachers recording every moment of learning, and then a data team would try to simulate this in a computer program.

The biggest example of this is Silicon Valley Wunderschool (now a business marketing wunderschool-in-a-box) Obviously this concept is big money, with school systems using ILP (Individual learning plans) with the cost being per seat (per student)

Data mining academics just might not be enough, what about other student development factors? Social and emotional learning is very important to their cognitive learning. Also, students can tire easily of the same subject repeated. Doing 100 addition problems a day on computer, may be just as boring as on paper.

In the attempt to mine data for social, emotional, and even activity engage we are seeing some techniques that may invade our students privacy. For example, NWEA, the company behind MAP testing, can offer you an option to tell you if the student is engaged in the digital test.

They do this by looking at the speed that the student is answering. the teacher gets notified on their dashboard that the student isn’t paying attention, this is the signal to “redirect” the student.[3]

Data shows that one-on-one instruction provided by a teacher is the best way to have  personalized instruction with a high student success rate. One teacher per student seems unrealistic in today’s classroom environment.

An environment that combines direct teacher instruction coupled with a digital personalized environment can help students learn at their own pace and on their own levels with good results.

Students today are fluent in technology using mobile devices, laptops, and tablets very often. Learning Programs like students perceive to be games will help students to stay engaged during the digitized piece of their ILP.

Basically the key to real personalized learning for each student involves, technology that is age appropriate, the teacher providing direct instruction when needed, flexible learning spaces, and the ability to learn through many different ways (learning modalities)

This new concept of personalized instructions can shift the classroom into higher levels of learning for all students. Teachers can redefine their roles, while creating a positive learning environment for their classroom.

Truly a combination of digital learning and direct instruction can help the students and teachers achieve higher goals, than what we are seeing the current classroom today.[6]

What can be done

Our approach to personalized learning isn’t just running computer algorithms. We aren’t just recording and gathering data.We are offering a simpler approach for K-4 classrooms.

We believe our way is more effective, both teachers and students can play our program at the same time.

Teachers can play in two ways:

  • Making their own supercool media libraries finding awesome images, videos, and music for their students.
  • In creating learning apps, teachers fill layouts with cool media. Let your students enjoy content in new ways. Compare it to publishing your own customize exams or playlists without hours of work, on the teacher. [4][5]

Fun for the students finding new elements of surprise in their exams!

This program makes personalization possible from preschool thru primary school by matching media content with student motivators.

Learning is  shifted to the students with instructions. The teacher monitors, the lessons (play), the results of the lessons, and guide the learning plan.[5]

Technology allows it, it is super quick, fun and productive for both sides. OK, for three sides, we shouldn’t forget parents.

Personalization in Practice

Here are examples from practice, how can be personalized learning made with Gabriel’s Seeds:

It’s easy to find videos and images that students enjoy, then use them for educational purposes.

If Student A struggles in basic math but loves dinosaurs, choose dinosaurs images for the student to practice those basic operations.

Student B really needs work with vocabulary building, and loves sports add crosswords, anagrams, word searches etc to his learning plan! Add sports videos for learning breaks between lessons.

Student C is having problems understanding  patterns in arrays and loves dogs. Simple make dog patterns in arrays.

The perfect fit! Combining what engages your students with personal learning goals.

[1] https://www.understood.org/en/school-learning/partnering-with-childs-school/instructional-strategies/personalized-learning-what-you-need-to-know

[2] https://www.forbes.com/sites/petergreene/2018/06/21/personalized-learning-wants-to-get-very-personal/#793f4da14166

[3] https://www.forbes.com/sites/petergreene/2018/06/21/personalized-learning-wants-to-get-very-personal/

[4] https://docs.google.com/document/d/1r7pyBzXO4KeXfIt89KChghtGC5GF1-Ex7EaGnPH3Vx4/edit

[5] https://www.cultofpedagogy.com/student-playlists-differentiation/

[6] http://www.dreambox.com/personalized-learning