A report on how technology can be integrated with education to offer learners a personalized experience, titled “Technology-Enabled Personalized Learning Summit: Findings & Recommendations to Accelerate Implementation,” includes insights and recommendations on how to make use of data, content and curriculum and how to leverage research and development resources. Harnessing human capacity and technology to offer learners a truly personalized education experience is at the forefront of schools’ 21st century skills pushes.
The report on education’s personalization through technology was derived from the 2014 North Carolina State University’s Friday Institute for Educational Innovation summit. Over 100 education experts and officials participated in the summit and helped identify what needs to be done to make customized learning a reality.
The summit report lists four goals essential for achieving personalized learning through technology-aided initiatives:
- Bridge dispersed interdisciplinary networks of Universal Design for Learning and Learning Analytics
- Tackle technical, regulatory and business model related issues
- Enable individual and collective knowledge to advance through efficient sharing
- Identify gaps and deliverables to be met.
The importance of customization for academic excellence is highlighted by Mark Schneiderman, SIIA senior director of policy. He says:
“Time is the constant, achievement is the variable. In contrast we have students that are increasingly diverse where expectations are ever higher. Where teaching to the mean doesn’t align with our learners. So our students are disengaged, not because they don’t have technology, but really because they’re not being met where they are as a learner at any given point in time.”
The reports offers its recommendations on how the traditional, one-size-fits-all learning experience can shift into one that’s more sensitive to and tailored to each learner’s needs.
The recommended redesigned learning system prioritizes: flexible learning schedules, ongoing, embedded, dynamic skill and knowledge assessments, differentiated instruction, informal learning integration and a portable electronic student portfolio record, among other possibilities.
Dr. Lisa Herring, Charleston County Deputy Superintendent for Academics, writes in the Post and Courier that technology is not to be mistaken with practice:
“There is a difference between instructional practice and instructional tools. Strong instructional practice is at the heart of a successful classroom. iPads do not, in any way, replace teachers but instead are a powerful instructional tool to help students reach their potential and expand opportunities for learning”
The Charleston County School District has implemented instructional practice with some help from technology, which Dr. Herring explains:
“Students will tell you themselves that personalized learning is the best thing that has ever happened to them, and they would not want to go back to a traditional classroom setting.”
The report on technology’s role in personalized learning also addresses the complexities and challenges that occur when trying to implement it.
Mary Ann Wolf, director of digital learning programs at the Friday Institute, highlights the significance of human capacity and intelligence in bringing all the tools and solutions together in a way that is fruitful for learners.