Thursday, September 10, 2015

Personalized Learning Misconceptions

"Personalized learning doesn't mean there aren't learning goals and benchmarks it just means it isn't cookie cutter "

The above quote came from me during a recent Twitter chat I participated in as people very hippy-like said "give students control over their learning," "no one wants someone to tell them what to learn."

Misconception #1- Personalized learning doesn't mean a free for all within an organized learning environment such as "school"; It means educators guiding the path of learning for students but allowing those students to have more control over pace and passions through a variety of different levels of choice. Depending on the needs of the student and the environment, it may not mean complete control over pace and passions. Blended learning can look differently for different situations.

Misconception #2- Personalized learning means less teacher interaction. I think it would be safe to say that more than ever before, we are seeing the individual student's needs due to our blended learning classroom. More small group instruction and data from technology-based applications means knowing what makes your students tick, what is their struggles, and how their day is going more than ever happened in a traditional classroom. Personalized learning means instructors have to know the person.

Misconception #3- Personalized learning means students easily adapt to this mode of learning- not necessarily. For most students, they have learned in a traditional way in schools. Teachers stand in the front, give information, students curate the information, practice it doing homework, are tested on it and regardless of knowledge gained- the next lesson begins. Personalized learning means helping that student learn concepts until they learn them. Pushing them more, expecting more, "making" them be in control of their learning. It's a hard change to more personal accountability for some students. It's not easier for some kids, especially in the beginning- change from the norm is hard.

Misconception #4- Personalized learning means a teacher isn't needed because a computer can replace the instructor. Great personalized learning happens when novices at learning are guided by instructors that care. I watch our instructors searching for best resources, interacting in small groups with likeminded students, and creating videos for students to watch again and again for multiple step problems. I see them care if these students progress. I see them lament on the lagging ones- on how to meet their needs. I see them struggle with the fact they might have a student outpace them and become more dependent on other things for instruction. I see our instructors keep an eye on these personalized learners to make sure true learning is happening. That can't be replaced in a classroom.