Personalized instruction is about adapting digital curriculum to fit students’ needs.
Personalizing the student learning experience in a digital classroom doesn’t mean just adding a virtual bulletin board to the login page or simply uploading content to a website. It means looking deeper at a student’s learning needs, harnessing their strengths, and offering differentiated instruction, just as a teacher would in a traditional or blended learning environment.
Personalized instruction allows educators to accelerate and strengthen student learning by adapting digital curriculum to fit student learning needs. Here are five ways to personalized student’s learning experience in a digital-only environment:
Providing a personalized learning experience starts and stops with student-teacher communication—it’s critical. For example, there should be weekly opportunities scheduled for the student and teacher to have teaching sessions and conversations about the student’s learning progress. The sessions can happen through a phone call, virtual classroom, or meeting platform for students that are working remotely. This will allow the teacher to identify the student’s unique learning needs and enable them to determine how to differentiate instruction accordingly.
Utilizing content that can be altered and manipulated will empower teachers to customize the learning experience for students. Flexible content will allow teachers to provide differentiated learning opportunities, pull in outside resources for remediation, and move content around in a course per student’s learning needs. For example, if a student is working in an Algebra II course and needs more practice on a concept covered in Algebra I, flexible content allows the teacher to pull in a lesson from Algebra I and insert it into the student’s Algebra II course. This lesson can be moved around to change the scope and sequence of the student’s course and to add extra assessments and resources to the lesson content for the student as well.
Allowing students to work at their own pace is another important piece of personalized learning. This provides students flexibility in scheduling and in their learning speed, which can be particularly important for exceptional learners. Many exceptional learners need extended time on assessments, so a self-pacing course will enable the student to take their time on assessments and meet the needs of the student’s educational plan. Additionally, high performing exceptional learners can move at an accelerated pace in the same course with self-pacing options. The self-pacing and extended time also meets the needs of other education plan accommodations such as printed notes/lessons, read-aloud text, as well as extended time on assessments. Ultimately, providing self-pacing gives the student ownership of their learning and allows students to learn at their own speed without feeling held back from moving forward or lost because the pace is too fast.
Virtual Learning Environment (VLE)
Employing a VLE that offers a platform for course alterations is key. A VLE platform will house the rigorous course content and should be user-friendly for student use and teacher customization. For instance, the number of multiple choice questions on an exam, time limits on assessments, course navigation, ability to creating content and/or pulling in outside resources are some of the functions that make a VLE selection important when considering how to customize the student experience. These functions allow the teacher to make personalized adjustments for students and enhance the learning experience.
Another critical component of personalized learning involves providing more than one type of assessment or more than one occasion for the student to show mastery of the lesson standards—for instance, offering students the option to show mastery of content through either an essay with an oral presentation or a multi-media presentation with a graphic organizer. This allows teachers to tap into the student’s learning interests. Students will gravitate towards the assessment they are most interested in completing, providing the opportunity for ownership and creativity. In turn, students will feel empowered to showcase their knowledge with the chosen assessment.
Personalized learning in a digital classroom is changing the definition of education. By using an online learning platform and implementing these five considerations, educators can provide a student-centered, customized learning experience that is accessible for all students that will prepare them for the digital world.
To learn more about personalizing in a digital classroom, join the Florida Virtual School Team at booth 310 and during the breakout session, Personalizing the Student Learning Experience on Thursday July 20, 2017 at 4:10 at Fusion 2017.