Personalized learning, like so much of what we value most in our schools, should be aligned to the particular educational needs of individual learners – that’s what it’s all about. Success depends on the ways schools support teachers: providing them with effective professional development focused on making the plan work; embracing their iterations and experiments as they work to continually improve their practices; and ultimately putting them in the position to succeed in targeting instruction, interventions and enrichment, including with actionable information to support personalizing learning for all students. Personalizing learning in this way, and to scale, has great promise to transform our educational practices and substantially improve outcomes.
Classrooms that involve technology in providing instruction are frequently described as “blended.” Educators working strategically with blended tools have raised the bar for enrichment of learning opportunities. For example, the Las Vegas Valley’s Pinecrest family of charter schools during the 2017-18 school year have used classroom technology to allow middle school students to interview subjects including some of the world’s most renowned surgeons, well-flown astronauts, accomplished journalists and A-list celebrities. Students also experience fun, standards-aligned “edutainment” lessons like exploring the interior of plant cells using 3-D animation.
Personalizing teaching and learning for all students leveraging technology requires broad, sustained commitments. This includes adhering to educational improvement strategies enabling teachers to connect with students in effective and engaging ways, allowing the differentiation for meeting each learner “where they are” in their own individualized trajectory of learning.