Beyond Personalization to Active Learning for Increased Student Achievement
Educators today are increasingly focused on developing personalized learning experiences for their students. With increased access to technology and a wide array of digital curriculum, there is opportunity for increased student outcomes now more than ever before.
However, in order to realize the true potential of personalized learning, one must consider the importance of combining three key elements for success: instructional design, instructional materials and school design.
When it comes to digital instruction, we can't allow the reality to be an online version of bad teaching. What is needed are online tools and resources that support the strategies and best practices for teaching. For example, if your digital curriculum is simply digitizing your textbook, then you are missing out on the chance for genuine personalization, active engagement and increased outcomes.
Optimal product design of best-in-class curriculum includes lessons and tools designed to support active learning. When thinking about active learning, the experience of students while online is key. Active, blended environments should offer students an experience that requires them to engage in meaningful, authentic tasks. Online courses and tutorials should not approach students as passive listeners who are merely consuming content, but, instead, should create learning opportunities for students who are active participants in the learning journey.
Learn by Doing
The preferred instructional design for personalized learning combines the classroom structure and instructional approach in a coordinated way that supports active learning and gives students an opportunity to talk about what they are doing online. Online lessons can be used as a catalyst for whole class or small group discussion, and students can reference online work in comprehensive projects. At the classroom level, teachers have specific deployment strategies that make digital curriculum a successful component to the active learning environment.
School Design is key and includes the careful selection of content and curriculum as well as attention to the development opportunities for staff. Active learning has to remain a key consideration. Measurement is also an important indicator that ensures movement toward such goals and should therefore be regular and intentional. Making significant impact is a team sport, and an effective active learning community requires whole school involvement and high investment from school leadership.
The power of blended learning lies not in just digitizing existing content but rather in creating optimal personalized and active learning experiences at scale—for all students from struggling and ELL to on-grade-level and advanced. Realizing the true potential of blended learning is about having empowered teachers, strong relationships, engaging and motivating learning environments, accessible and rigorous instructional materials, and frequent feedback and student agency.