Personalized Learning has become a high-profile trend in K-12 education. An intelligent blend of a variety of technologies, reform agendas, and instructional approaches make for a sharp set-up of personalized learning for all students. Not to forget, personalized learning has been a focus in the arena of students with disabilities since ages; thus it isn’t a very new concept.
Educators now are concentrating on tailoring learning experiences to individual students’ needs and interests in all fields.
Personalization involves students connecting to a learning experience of some kind, from which their individual needs, interests, and performances can be measured. After data has been collected, they are inferred to set a particular standard or criteria. This interpretation is then used to inform specific adaptations of the learning experience that may differ from student to student in terms of objectives, pathways or pace.
When technology comes into play, personalized learning for students reaches a whole new level of diversity. Learning becomes even more assorted, arrayed and effective. It is noteworthy that technology-enabled personalized learning has recurrently observed progressions in students like:
- Exercising personal agency and responsibility
- Competency-based learning headways
- Balanced learning opportunities
- Individual learning pathways that are very specific to each and every student
- Self-regulated learning
- Strong bonding between a teacher and a student
- Higher degree of engagement of parents and guardians
- Modified roles of educators
In addition to all of these, educators nowadays are headstrong to find out personalized learning approaches that move beyond the notion of ‘one-size-fits-all’. Surveys suggest that schooling needs to adopt new approaches that address both persistent and emerging educational challenges, such as achievement gaps and student disengagement. Hence, educators are always seeking ways to keep up with the needs of a rapidly changing world in which students’ needs are shifting towards 21st century competencies in terms of more responsibility to manage their own lifelong learning and professional development.
To make it even clearer, lets understand the idea of Personalized Learning from the perspective of some renowned education institutes and universities:
As per U.S. Department Education’s 2016 National Educational Technology Plan (NETP)
Personalized learning refers to a set of instructions in which the speed of learning and the instructional approach are customized according to the requirements of each learner. Learning objectives, instructional approaches, and instructional content may all vary based on learner needs. Additionally, learning activities are made available that are meaningful and relevant to learners, determined by their interests and are often self-initiated.
The Friday Institute for Educational Innovation at North Carolina State University
They say that Personalization refers to instruction that is paced to learning needs, tailored to learning preferences, and tailored to the specific interests of different learners. In an environment that is fully personalized, the learning objectives and content as well as the methods and pace may all vary.
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, and EDUCAUSE
Personalized learning seeks to accelerate student learning by tailoring the instructional environment on four major pillars — what, when, how, and where students learn to cater to the individual needs skills and interests of every student. Students can take ownership of their own learning, while also developing deep, personal connections with each other, their teachers and other adults.
International Association for K-12 Learning Online (iNACOL)
Personalized learning means tailoring learning for each student’s strengths, needs and interests; including enabling student opinions and choice in what, how, when, and where they learn so that they can be provided utmost flexibility and support to ensure that they achieve mastery of the highest standards possible.
Now, how can technology enable personalized learning in various aspects? Firstly, let’s discuss how it enables the learner to enhance strengths, skills, interests and proactiveness:
Subject interest: High-speed internet being almost an omnipresent factor, students get the freedom to explore about subjects they are deeply interested in.
On their electronic devices, they can dive into concepts even more profoundly, experiment and iterate with information at the tips of their fingers. Not only this, they can get connected to global experts on their areas of interest, take up project-based learning and develop keenness towards even the most complex concepts.
Content interest: Technology can significantly raise the level of interest in content. When learners get the liberty to learn a concept through an interesting game, visual effects or graphics, videos, graphical representation and pictures or images; they become even more inquisitive towards a particular subject and show greater degree of engagement.
For example, an online game of scrabble may make a student get excited over English subject and learn new words everyday or an interesting quiz on wildlife or nature may make Geography appealing to another student.
Curriculum interest: Learners find it convenient if they are provided with online content that is well-aligned to their school or board curriculum. With this they are able to keep up with their regular syllabus along with exploring various related topics that are available online keeping their research streak on point.
Extra-curricular interest: Technology has a wide domain that makes a variety of topics available to an user. So, when students surf the internet during their regular course of study, they knowingly or unknowingly also discover their areas of passion and interest which then develops as extra-curricular activities for them.
Non-judgemental learning: This is perhaps the most comforting aspect for a student. Students with the help of technology can build their own path of learning. They can develop their own pattern and pace to cope up with the given curriculum. There is nobody to judge them or look upon their shoulders who would try taming them and regulate their way of studying. This makes them feel free and liberal towards learning as a whole.
For example, a student’s feeble interest for writing may eventually stand out strong while going through some story books and novels online. He/she too might get inspired and start writing poems or short stories in his/her leisure time. Apart from this, with technology students also get a lot of assistance when it comes to project and group assignments that are allotted from school’s end.
What is personalized learning in the classroom?
Subject interest: As we might know that in a classroom, teacher and student need to have a proper coordination to create a smooth learning environment. Both conception and reception should be in sync so that there are no loopholes left behind. Technology can be a great aid here.
So, while teaching a subject, teachers can encourage students to go on and find out more about the same on their electronic devices. For instance, while teaching types of volcanoes, teachers can ask students to go over the internet and find out the names of the most popular volcanoes around the world and share it with the class. This makes students interested about a subject on a long-term basis keeping their interest intact.
Besides this, electronic devices in the hands of teachers and each student keep them on the same page. Students can always go back to the topic to go through it again and always consult the teacher if he/she has doubts.
Content interest: While explaining a particular topic, teachers can refer to real life stories or theories which are available online on the public domain. Based on this, teachers may arrange for some group discussions in the class, short quiz or elocution sessions. This not only promotes healthy completion but also makes students express their views generously.
Curriculum interest: When the entire curriculum is available online/offline, students feel comfortable and remain in the momentum. Teachers and students both can be rest assured that nothing can go off track or irrelevant.
Extra-curricular interest: Technology can facilitate students in innumerable ways. When it comes to extra-curricular activities, students can quite easily take the help of the internet to feed and enrich their imagination.
For example, during a craft class, students have been given the task of making a bird out of chart paper. There can be so many ways of doing it. Every child will have a different way of thinking and creating it. The Internet here can assist their creativity to the fullest.
Coming through all this, how can Learning Tablets play a vital role in personalizing learning?
Learning Tablets come handy in each and every point that are mentioned above.
- Offline Content: If we talk about iDream Learning Tablets, they can very well be used online as well as offline. Since, the tablets have SD cards that have the entire digital learning content pre-loaded on them, these tablets can be very conveniently used by students even in the absence of the internet. Thus, giving them full flexibility to learn at any time from anywhere.
Also, the content is fully customized as per school curriculum, thus parents and teachers can be sure learning shall be in-line with the prescribed syllabus.
- Digital Library: This point supports the point of curriculum interest. The massive digital book library in these tablets acts as a comprehensive aid to a child’s learning process. The library consists of curriculum books as well as story books. This inhibits a natural knack of reading amongst students.
- Multimedia Content: Moving on, the multimedia content in learning tablets is by far the best feature for your children. The animated videos explaining concepts in a story-telling form are quite interactive and fun to watch. Children watch these with great interest and tend to understand concepts much quicker and remember them for a longer period of time. The vibrant illustrations with pictures and images make children even more enthusiastic to learn and grasp topics smoothly. This point backs up the Content Interest point mentioned initially.
- Lessons on Life-Skills: Students can also get trained on values, principals and ethics of life through intellectual Life Skill videos on aspects like anger management, honesty, hard-work and so on. This enhances their extra-curricular interest as mentioned in the above points.
- Topic-specific Assessments: This particular section will further elaborate the point as to how learning tablets or technology can ignite subject interest in a student. Students can take up topic-specific assessments/tests so as to master topics thoroughly. They can take up these tests as many times as they want till they score satisfactorily and achieve mastery on topics.
- Centralized Reporting: To gauge all the reports and overall usage of tablets, teachers can view all the reports that are stored offline on the tablets which get synchronized periodically to an online centralized dashboard. Thus, teachers are very easily able to observe the students who lag behind and can guide them with personalized lessons and assignments.
- Add up additional content: Apart from the prescribed content, you can also add tailored content to the tablets as per your requirement and needs of the students. You may design the content and we can incorporate them in the tablets from time to time. This takes the concept of personalized learning to a whole new level.
- Parents can establish required control: iDream Learning Tablets are designed in a way that parents can with much ease lock/unlock apps which they want their children to access. Doing this, they can be rest assured that children are only accessing stuff that are of supreme importance and relevance.
During this Pandemic
Schools being shut with no certain dates of reopening, more and more students are resorting to online or digital learning. In such a scenario, a learning tablet can just be the exact thing to get adopted to. Students at the ease and safety of their home environment can persistently continue their learning while being in guidance of their teachers and parents.
New Education Policy
With the new education policy coming in, it has become even more imperative that we restructure our learning and form of thinking. This new policy suggests that it intends to move away from ‘rote learning’ and move as much as closer to meaningful/active learning. Therefore, learning models should be a replica of what we actually think or do and what we wish our children to do in future in a practical sense. It should be more realistic and life-changing altogether.
This can only happen if children enjoy and have fun while they learn. Only then can they grasp and retain things whole-heartedly.
Thus, Learning Tablets can serve a great deal here providing a holistic growth to our students.
Where do we actually lag?
Most of the time we fail to understand that adaptive, individualized, differentiated and competency-based learning is also very important. In fact, this is the need of the hour.
We require to focus on utmost customization of the learning process and to make a paradigm shift from a mass production teaching model to a student-centric learning model. Getting opinionated about a child who learns a specific topic slower than the other has to stop somehow. He might be slow at one thing but might be quicker at something else. We need to find a way that will speed up his slower or weaker points.
Quick tips for parents/teachers as to how they can choose the best tablets for students
- Choose tablets according to your budget and needs
- See if the tablets you consider to buy are safe, provide good quality of learning content and produce timely reports.
- Determine longevity of the tablets; make sure the tablets you buy should not require maintenance upto 2 to 3 years of time.
- Also, pre-decide the features like RAM, ROM and screen size before going ahead.
We need to drive our efforts towards understanding the uniqueness and distinctiveness of every child. Every child learns at his own speed and perceives things in a totally different manner. With Learning Tablets perhaps we can; rather it would be correct to say that students can!
Personalized Learning is only successful when:
- A child is curious enough to try out new things all on his own.
- When he seems to be inclined towards practical learning
- When he seems eager to know the practical implementation of a concept
- When he shows a continual and consistent engagement t towards learning
- When he takes learning as a journey and not just as a destination.
Learning tablets can channel these pointers in just the right way!