4 for the 4th: The Independence of Personalized Learning

Personalized learning provides teachers and students alike with tremendous freedom.
"Personalized learning empowers students by creating an individualized path for them, rather than lumping them in with the thousands of other students in their district or millions in their state. They becomes the authors and owners of an education that is truly their own."

Personalized learning transforms education to maximize both student engagement and meaningful learning. While providing an individualized experience for each learner was considered impossible for decades due to time constraints, today’s learning relationship management (LRM) technology finally offers teachers and students the tools they’ve always known they wanted.

Traditional education has unfortunately earned itself a reputation as closed-minded and constrained, but personalized learning is open-ended and invites students to think well beyond traditional school subjects. In the spirit of Independence Day, here are four essential freedoms personalized learning provides teachers and students:

Freedom from boring textbooks & boxed curricula

Teachers and students both dread working from sets of textbooks and prepared materials, but inertia and ease of use have somehow kept these outdated relics in our classrooms. Personalized learning provides schools and districts with a framework to reject these unengaging materials and embrace a more student-centered philosophy.

For students, personalized learning takes the “Why are we learning this?” out of educational units and makes every lesson and learning moment meaningful. Personalized learning invites students and teachers to work together to create an experience that produces meaningful outcomes for each learner.

Freedom from the time constraints of the school day

Every teacher has said at one time or another that they “Just wish they had more time with Student X.” Personalized learning removes the obstacle of time by shifting the classroom from the place learning happens to the place learning starts. This reshapes student mindsets and encourages them to see the entire world as a learning opportunity.

Teachers in a personalized learning system are free to act as coaches, using face-to-face time to prepare students for authentic learning experiences in the real world and conference or reflect with them afterwards. In this way, teachers actually guide and impact more of the student’s life than they can in the classroom with extended periods of any length.

Freedom from being seen as a number

While we live in an era where data drives everything, students and teachers both hate being boxed in and defined through statistics. Personalized learning provides both with ways to express themselves authentically and foster a holistic view of learning.

Personalized learning empowers students by creating an individualized path for them, rather than lumping them in with the thousands of other students in their district or millions in their state. They becomes the authors and owners of an education that is truly their own. Teachers are armed with a variety of ways to provide meaningful feedback and build knowledge outside of the constraints of traditional grading, testing and assignments.

Freedom from having to justify their work

High-accountability federal education programs, state turnaround efforts and the charter school movement have all made it harder for teachers to work outside the constraints of established learning targets in literacy and math. Personalized learning offers an escape from the monotony of drill-and-kill mastery units, increasing opportunities for real learning to occur while still maintaining high expectations.

Personalized learning invites teachers and students to approach curriculum standards from any angle they see fit. As long as the end goal is demonstrably achieved, any lesson, learning experience or activity can be used to get there. This provides teachers with more opportunities to differentiate and students with greater freedom to learn in the way that works for them!