Personalizing Learning

This is truly an exciting time to be an educator. These past few days and weeks have been a delightful crazy-and-busy blur. I’ve been privileged to travel and meet with educators and learners in different places and see how individuals are innovating left right and centre! This week I had the opportunity to sit in on a meeting at European Schoolnet in Brussels, where the Interactive Classroom Working Group has put a spotlight on Personalizing Learning. It was a compact, intense 2 days of sharing experiences and discussing strategy and ways of working going forward. How can personalized learning be fostered in the classrooms of European schoolchildren? What we saw and heard helped us to find answers to these questions. Personalizing learning in the classroom has become a no-brainer for me. We are living in a personalized age. No two learners are alike. In our classrooms, we have learners with different backgrounds, languages and competencies. Each child is different, each person unique, each an individual with his/her own learning capabilities and biographies. In 2016 I feel that we have no excuse for treating children identically, giving them the same worksheets, to be done in the same time slot, with the same outcome. This has been the procedure in the traditional classroom and for reasons of efficiency, this is still the norm for most.

But this approach is largely teacher-centered. It is of course much easier to prepare one single worksheet than it is to prepare two or three different ones. But is our aim to make things more efficient for teachers, or do we want to ensure that learning is taking place and that we reach the hearts and minds of young persons?

During our meeting we heard engaging presentations by teachers in IrelandItaly, Switzerland and Portugal. I had the privilege of showing how I personalize learning in Austria. It really impressed me how these professionals in their unique way work very hard to create personalized learning experiences for their charges. From flipped classroom arrangements, teaching with technology, progress tracking and personalized feedback to individual learning tracks, flexible learning spaces and open learning systems – these educators are innovating their socks off!

We also heard about personalized learning spaces from Steelcase and saw how this worked in practice at Ohalo Teaching College in Israel and the Future Classroom Lab in Brussels. In a perfect world, all students would be treated to flexible classrooms which would be create learning spaces.

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In another session we heard about the work Knewton is doing on adaptive learning software. Although I understand and agree in theory with using algorithms to provide an individual learning experience, I feel that any system used should be adaptable and flexible so that educators and mix and match or cut and paste as they see it. I don’t see myself using static textbooks in future, I’d rather create and curate my own content. Making teaching personal so to speak 🙂

As for my Austrian example, I have collected info and pictures here in German and here or here in English. As usual, my ppt is mostly pictures (with more info in the notes section).

I left the meeting fully charged and ready to spread the word about personalized learning to all I come into contact with. Such is the power of connected educators. The power to create positive and transformative change is within our grasp!

If you have any questions, pls feel free to contact me via twitter @aliciabankhofer abankhofer @ me.com.

Image credit: Flickr (free to share and adapt)

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