Is It Possible to Personalize Learning Without Digital Curriculum?

February 27, 2017

The new Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which goes into effect during the 2017-18 school year, pushes educators to personalize learning and encourages the use of technology to drive the effort to meet every student where he or she is at academically. Digital curriculum helps districts and schools fulfill ESSA’s core objectives in many ways, including facilitating personalized learning at a scale that’s not possible in a traditional model — expanding academic opportunities to all students and meeting the needs of increasingly diverse student populations. 

Why Digital Curriculum is Essential to Personalized Learning

ESSA aims to help every student — from struggling to high-achieving learners — master grade level content, reach academic standards and achieve greater outcomes on high-stakes exams. In order to meet the needs of each and every student, regardless of proficiency levels, aptitudes or backgrounds, districts and schools are embracing digital curriculum. 

Consider a typical day for a classroom teacher. One teacher might teach six periods every day with 30 students in each class. That’s 180 students a single teacher is responsible for throughout the day. During the 45-50 minutes allotted for each class period, teachers have a required amount of material they must teach in order to satisfy standards.  

Adding to that challenge is classroom diversity. We have always seen diversity in the classroom; students learn at different paces and not every student is prepared to learn the same things on the same days in the same ways. There have always been students who are ready to accelerate faster than their peers, as well as students who require more time for learning or lack basic skills to master grade level content. When we add the diversity in student backgrounds, a single classroom today may have students from around the world who speak different languages, are struggling with disabilities or dealing with poverty.

Due to this diversity, there are challenges and limitations to what teachers can do on their own to support every student in their classrooms, and there’s no one thing they can do to meet every student’s needs. Every student has a different approach to learning and demands various structures of support. 

Effective digital curriculum provides teachers with the ability to personalize learning for every student at scale. Digital curriculum, complete with supports and scaffolds for struggling students, provides educators with an alternative model for serving a wider range of students, and it has proven to be an incredible resource for creating learning experiences that meet the needs of every student a school or district serves. 

When educators deliver a more personalized learning experience, students are more engaged in their schoolwork and motivated to learn. Digital curriculum taps into opportunities only technology can create to give students the chance to engage and interact with their coursework rather than passively read a textbook or watch a lecture. When students struggle, digital curriculum provides opt-in supports and scaffolds that introduce students to challenging material while providing guidance for content mastery. If students are accelerating quickly, digital curriculum enables them to work ahead while remaining with their peers within the classroom.

Digital curriculum also provides important formative feedback and data that is essential to personalized learning. Teachers, administrators and even students have access to real-time data about academic performance and progress toward learning goals. By analyzing that data, teachers can intervene when necessary to provide individual students with the additional support at the moment of instruction. 

Personalized learning will become more and more prevalent in classrooms as districts and schools comply with ESSA regulations. In order to create the personalized learning experiences that ESSA emphasizes, educators must have access to effective digital curriculum that serves all students — from advanced placement to at-risk. Visit our website to learn more about Apex Learning’s digital curriculum and how it can personalize learning to ensure every student is prepared for college, work and life. 

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