Blended learning incorporates technology and digital tools to enhance traditional learning. In these environments, teachers have the ability to personalize pace, choice and content to create individualized learning experiences for their students. This relies on understanding students’ needs and interests, making them co-pilots of their learning, with the ability to explore topics that excite them rather than subjects that are prescribed to them.
In this blog—the final of the three-part personalized learning series—we look at how content can be individualized by using technology in the classroom.
3 Steps to Personalize Content in Blended Learning Environments
To personalize content in the classroom, it’s important to account for learners’ needs and offer them material options that suit them. Content that students find interesting is more likely to engage them and increase their knowledge. Here are three steps you can take to personalize content in the classroom:
1. Understand Learners’ Needs
Students have different learning needs: while some prefer to read class materials, others may retain concepts better through different mediums, like video or audio lessons. Understanding your learners’ needs helps make sure you’re delivering content that suits each student. Every cohort of students will have a varied makeup of what keeps them it interested and engaged.
In order to understand their needs, you can:
- use a learning management system (LMS) to hold polls that engage students and parents on what voices they think are missing from material and content
- facilitate class discussions where students can weigh in on what they want to learn more about
- create formative assessments to understand where students excel and what areas they need to improve
When you understand your students’ needs, you can introduce content that resonates with them. This helps keep students engaged while ensuring they’re working toward the necessary learning outcomes.
2. Include Material From Diverse Perspectives
When it comes to delivering content, materials should help address student needs alongside the diverse makeup of the classroom. It’s important to include choices of readings, examples, analogies, videos and other content that reflect the stories of all students. To offer personalized content that students identify with, you can:
- examine the current narratives in your classroom to understand which voices are missing
- introduce authors from different backgrounds and life experiences so students can learn about people who are relatable
- encourage students to put forth their own suggestions for authors, speakers and guests
To reach and engage each student, it’s important to meet students where they are and acknowledge their differences. No two learners have identical backgrounds, histories or futures—by personalizing content you can better engage students and bridge learning gaps.
3. Use Student-Centered Learning Principles
With student-centered learning, the teacher is still the head of the classroom but helps students take command of their own learning. Students are given an outline and guidance, but they’re able to exercise creativity when deciding what areas to research. The 2016 report titled Seizing the Moment: Realizing the Promise of Student-Centered Learning, published by the Nellie Mae Education Foundation, noted that “student-centered learning, which engages individuals and their teachers in powerful experiences that inspire a passion for learning and understanding, is the best way to prepare students for the unknowable future that lies ahead.”
That report outlines several ways to adopt student-centered learning, including:
- delivering content to above- and below-average students, to accommodate all abilities
- redefining the student-teacher relationship, enabling students to become more active participants in their learning rather than “passive vessels”
- introducing more dynamic ways to measure students’ success that account for unique abilities and personalized content choices
Creating a learning environment built on student-centered learning principles empowers learners to explore content in ways that interest them, leading to higher engagement and better retention.