Saturday, February 16, 2013

1:1 programmes and personalized learning


I've started an online course called The 5Ws of Personalized Learning, and one of my first assignments was to look at a variety of topics such as adaptive learning, blended learning, differentiated instruction, the "flipped classroom", 1:1 learning, project-based learning, IEPs and learning labs and to write a position statement about whether these are personalized learning or not.  I decided to write about 1:1 learning as I felt that as Tech Coordinator these studies were most relevant to me and my experience of using technology with students.

The evidence from various places indicates that students in 1:1 environments show an improvement in their learning, as measured in test scores and % of students who graduate.  For example evidence from Maine suggests improved writing and science scores and improvements in problem solving.  Project RED shows increased academic achievement and a decrease in drop-out rates.  Most studies show an improvement in engagement.  The question is whether or not these improvements are due to the technology, or the improved teaching practices that accompanied the adoption of 1:1 learning.  Looking at it from this perspective, research shows that the major factor in success comes from teaching practices of teachers using the technology and that if teachers are not adapting their materials and practice then the 1:1 programme doesn't have much impact.

I would argue that a 1:1 programme can certainly lead to more personalized learning, but not necessarily so.  Many 1:1 programmes are focused on the technology, rather than the learner.  Personalized learning starts with the learner and his or her interests, but in 1:1 classrooms it's still possible for all students to be doing the same thing at the same time.  In these cases I would argue that a 1:1 programme is not personalized learning.

On the other hand, 1:1 learning can allow for students to participate in the design of the learning and give more voice and choice.  In personalized learning the learner selects the appropriate technology and resources to support the learning.  This would tend to suggest that 1:1 BYOD programmes may be more successful at personalizing learning than a one-size-fits-all roll out of a particular device (laptop, tablet or whatever).  It's HOW the technology is being used, rather than WHAT technology is being used that leads to personalized learning.  Giving voice and choice into what device students can use, how they investigate and how they eventually show their learning and understanding, can lead to 1:1 programmes personalizing learning.

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