Schools worldwide have faced the many consequences of the pandemic. In these conditions, educators have pursued a journey of analysis and discovery to find the best solutions to help learners move forward despite all challenges and reach their learning goals.
All over the USA, education specialists are rallying around accelerated learning as a potential solution that will cause minimal changes in the current curriculum while ensuring learners receive the knowledge and skills they need to reach grade-level standards.
What is Accelerated Learning?
Accelerated Learning (AL) is an advanced teaching and learning technique that speeds the design and learning processes. The approach uses learner-driven activities to provide an interactive learning experience that enhances retention and increases performance. Of course, this is done with the teacher's help as a facilitator. Activities include meaningful tasks and real-life contexts to engage students in authentic learning experiences.
To some extent, AL allows students to determine the speed and method of their instruction, apply new knowledge and skills to real-life situations through contextual learning, and learn by doing. AL has even been promoted as a trend of shorter degree programs required by the constant labor market changes, challenging traditional academic structures.
Accelerated learning should not be confused with grade acceleration, which means going faster through the traditional curriculum. The most common acceleration methods include grade-skipping, early school or level entrance, subject-based acceleration, advanced placement, or international Baccalaureate programs.
AL challenges the traditional approach to teaching and learning while providing the minimum content requirements in a multisensory environment where students maximize their potential in a natural retention journey engaging their whole brain for natural and effective outcomes. Students reach milestones in less time, with less effort, tapping into all the potential that conventional teaching has omitted to consider.
The principles of Accelerated Learning
AL believes learning is a complex process that involves the whole mind and body. It’s created, not consumed by the student. Learning is not an individual act but a process of collaboration and cooperation between learners. With AL, students are actively involved in the learning process, immersing in contextual retention following the immersion-feedback-reflection-reimmersion pattern.
AL transforms learning through a social and emotional approach, supporting the idea that students learn better in real-life contexts, socializing and interacting with peers in positive environments where their well-being is considered.
AL has to follow essential prerequisites to prove its effectiveness. Many states have designed the conditions needed for AL to work, recognizing its importance in post-lockdown, whether it’s in face-to-face, blended, or online learning scenarios. They work on four intervention pillars:
- Ensuring the teaching and learning conditions that support the well-being of all parties involved in the learning process. Teachers strive to meet students' social, emotional, and academic needs while creating a trustworthy parent-teacher-student relationship and a safe, balanced and positive learning environment.
- Providing equitable access to resources and considering every student's abilities and cultural background as a ground to build upon and provide opportunities for a well-rounded education.
- Focusing on providing a reviewed curriculum to ensure depth of learning and an alignment with grade-level standards, leveraging students' interests and prior knowledge.
- Implementing AL to identify learning gaps and scaffold to reach grade-level objectives prioritizing the needed content. Teachers receive training and support in determining the paths students need to progress towards the learning outcomes.
The benefits of Accelerated Learning
Due to the challenges of today's health crisis, education is in desperate need of solutions. Accelerated learning comes to minimize the impact of the pandemic on students and create a world where they enjoy learning in a positive learning environment.
With AL, students receive constant support to access grade-level work, closing specific knowledge gaps instead of going through the entire skipped curriculum. Students receive just-in-time support to reach the learning standards. Thus, they won’t need a remedial program where they go through the skipped content of last year while dealing with the current curriculum.
AL avoids learner fatigue in remedial programs and provides just the amount of content and learning experience needed to reach grade-level requirements. For this purpose, students receive tutoring and regular focused learning interventions to determine the knowledge and skills needed to make progress.