Earlier this month we attended OEB – an event aimed at shaping the future of learning – and the main theme for the event was ‘Learning Uncertainty’. Currently, the education landscape is in the midst of change; there is a constant shift in the way things are being taught, learned, delivered and captured. One of the solutions that stood out as an overarching trend in this conversation, and something that we spoke to Training Journal about, is the idea of personalized learning.
We all have our own ways that we learn best and as we go through school it begins to become a lot more apparent. Some students work best by the traditional reading and taking notes, while others prefer working in groups or creating models to get to grips with content.
One thing’s for sure though: students must be able to develop a number of key skills to flourish in today’s society including communication, critical thinking, collaboration, creativity and problem-solving. Yet how we address their learning needs is the subject of debate among education stakeholders.
It can be a challenge for teachers to tailor learning in order to support each and every need within the classroom when setting tasks. Naturally there will be some students that find the set lesson material relatively straightforward, whereas others may struggle.
This is where personalized learning plays a key role. Being able to adapt methods and ways of learning depending on students’ capabilities means that tasks are more likely to appeal to every child, keeping them engaged and motivated to continue learning.
Schools are on the look-out for ways to achieve this and judging from the sheer amount of resources on offer at OEB, technology can be very powerful and impactful when it comes to implementing personalized learning successfully. Not only does this new technology have the potential to benefit students, but it can also help teachers to streamline administrative tasks, making it easier for them to prepare learning materials.
So let’s take a look at some of the ways in which we can champion personalized learning in the classroom…
Just as Mary Poppins brought games and songs to activities – unbelievably leading little Michael to say, ‘I want to tidy up the nursery room again’ – teachers should try and introduce gamification into the learning process.
An element of competition not only sparks a fun environment for children to benchmark themselves against one another in a healthy, friendly way, but also gives the children the ability to tailor activities depending on their skill levels, meaning that no one feels left behind.
With the seemingly endless amount of apps available, there are educational games that provide interactive, hands-on tasks, reading and recall activities, memory tests, and the list goes on and on. It’s a sure-fire way to appeal to the masses and make sure every child is able to achieve their full potential.
Integrating the video game concept of ‘leveling up’ motivates students to complete activities and move on to the next stage. After all, everyone likes positive reinforcements and acknowledgments and this will help them to build up their confidence and subsequently improve their overall learning experience.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
The idea that a machine could be capable of learning is indeed a little scary, but actually if we use this to our advantage in the classroom, we could be onto a winner.
AI has the potential to really disrupt the ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach and give teachers the insight and power to assess how each student is performing, see how they might improve, and modify activities accordingly in real time.
For example, marking homework and grading tests can be a massively time-consuming task. Time that would otherwise be spent on professional development, lesson planning or additional student support. However, technology which incorporates AI can be used to automatically mark tests, and recommendations can be flagged on the areas which students might need extra help with.
While there are some rather premature concerns that AI will someday replace teaching, it is a tool that we should now see in a positive way. We need to recognize the contribution that it can make in aiding the process and helping to reduce teacher workloads, inevitably supporting a more tailored learning experience.
Learning Management Systems
Learning management systems provide teachers with a streamlined approach to teaching and learning. They encompass the whole process including curriculum content, lesson planning and administrative work. Systems like NEO are designed to make personalized learning simple for teachers. Bringing everything, including gamification and AI, into one central system means that teachers are able to easily create engaging content that responds to the needs of individuals, helping them to work at the level that is most suited to them.
Personalizing learning through the use of technology can improve the learning experience for every individual – both teachers and students – and that’s definitely a win, win situation!