No two students are alike. They have different preferences, strengths and weaknesses, but in most schools all children are expected to learn the same way. There is very little choice as to how content is absorbed and by what method knowledge is demonstrated. Technology is changing that and as schools continue to invest in the right digital tools, the options for how students learn are endless. This has given rise to what is known as personalized learning.
“It’s called personalized for a reason. Even the definition has customized interpretations for each person,” says Samantha Becker, senior director of Communication for the New Media Consortium.”
What Becker means is that there is no agreed upon, single definition of personalized learning. What most experts do agree on is that in order for learning to be personalized students must have some autonomy over their education.
“It’s really about a growth mindset and academic success for all,” says Jason Bedford, SVP at DreamBox Learning, an online software provider focused on middle school mathematics education.
And the way you do that is by providing students with multiple ways of learning the same thing and multiple ways to demonstrate that knowledge. Some in the education community refer to this as universal design for learning (UDL). That’s another common term that appears in conversations about pedagogy.
“The educators I get the privilege to work with really look at all of this through the lens of instructional quality transformation and I love those three words together because regardless of the other terminology that might sit underneath that umbrella, it’s about a continuous improvement cycle,” Bedford says.