Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Using technology to personalize learning

Because I recently renewed my ISTE membership, I was given the opportunity to download a free eBook - my choice was Personalized Learning: A Guide for Engaging Students with Technology by Peggy Grant and Dale Basye.  During my last week in the UK before returning to India I decided to read through this book and share some of my thinking here on the blog.

One of the first things addressed in Chapter 1 of this book is the characteristics of personalized learning.  Briefly it takes account of:
  • students' interests and abilities
  • learning content/standards through real-world activities
  • teachers' roles changing to become facilitators rather than dispensers of knowledge
  • students being in control of their learning by setting their own goals for building skills
  • technology that can enable student choices about what they learn, how they learn and how they show their understanding
  • technology that can assist formative assessment, address weaknesses and build on strengths
  • progress based on proficiency of skills and understanding
  • technology being integrated to support learning
One new thing I learned in this chapter was about the 2010 initiative Project RED (which stands for Revolutionizing EDucation) which looked at the ways that technology can improve student achievement.  Project RED came up with 7 major findings, which are worth mentioning here:
  1. Implementation factors that lead to success include:  technology integrated into every intervention class period, leadership providing time for teacher professional learning each month, technology being used daily for online collaboration, technology being integrated into core curriculum, online formative assessments being done weekly, daily searches for information, principals being trained in best practices.
  2. 1:1 schools that employ all the key implementation factors outperform all other schools
  3. When properly implemented technology saves money - on average a 1:1 classroom saves around $400 per student per year.
  4. Change must be modelled and championed at the principal level
  5. Technology-transformed intervention improves learning
  6. Online collaboration increases student engagement, productivity and learning
  7. The daily use of technology delivers the best return on investment
Project RED came up with 4 recommendations:
  1. Technology should be frequently integrated into the curriculum to personalize learning for all students
  2. Professional learning in the effective integration of technology for teaching, learning and assessment should be a high priority
  3. Social media, games and simulations should be used to engage students and excite them about their learning.
  4. Online assessments should be used to provide data to help tailor instruction, remediation and accelerated learning.
As Project RED is already 7 years old now, I'd be interested to know whether there has been follow-up studies done in those schools that implemented the recommendations.  Hopefully this will be addressed as I read through the rest of the book.

Photo Credit: hackNY Flickr via Compfight cc

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