Where personalized learning was once viewed as a “nice-to-have” item on a school district’s wish list, the concept has quickly built momentum. In fact, personalized learning may soon become a requirement in your own school. A growing number of states—17 and counting—now include personalized learning in their Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plans.1
This trend makes sense for a number of reasons. Gone are the days of one-size-fits all teaching, where educators give the same instruction, assignments and assessments with very little variation. Instead, teachers are now turning to data to inform the way they teach based on each student’s strengths, weaknesses, needs and interests. Successful personalized learning approaches combine a variety of non-traditional instruction, education programs, technology-based teaching and innovative academic strategies—customized to best serve each student.
Additionally, teachers want to offer personalized learning. A recent survey showed that 86 percent of teachers are constantly looking for new ways to engage students based on who they are, and 78% believe that data can help validate where their students are and where they need to go.2
Finally, personalized learning delivers a number of impressive benefits. 1:1 initiatives and learning tools have already been proven to increase students’ interest, and now using real-time data enables teachers to custom-design instructional approaches to meet an individual’s needs and preferences. Personalized learning helps increase engagement, identify and close achievement gaps, and create better student outcomes.
What does personalized learning look like?
While the benefits of personalized learning are appealing, many school districts wonder how they can get started. The answer starts with the idea of becoming data-driven, which is a bit of a bigger topic, but one that represents a critical first step in the right direction.
Educators and school districts can collect and analyze real-time data to gain valuable new insights that become the foundation of a personalized learning approach. For example, a teacher can use additional data to monitor an entire class and track each student’s performance. The teacher can also identify areas of strength or concern. If a student seems to be falling behind, the teacher can quickly develop additional strategies and resources to help him get back on track. Similarly, a student who is performing above expectations may benefit from a learning plan that includes additional concepts beyond standard learning objectives.
With analytics, teachers can access dynamic student scorecards to get an up-to-date and historical profile that includes student grades, assessments and more. Such insights help identify at-risk students who might need interventions. More, this information is delivered in real time so teachers can act quickly.
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1 KnowledgeWorks, Personalized Learning and Every Student Succeeds Act: Mapping Emerging Trends for Personalized Learning in State ESSA Plans, March 2018, page 6.
2 The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Teachers Know Best: Making Data Work For Teachers and Students, June 2015, page 4.