In a geometry classroom in Northern California, Theek, a Laotian newcomer, has no problem applying abstract mathematical concepts to a real-world architecture assignment, but struggles with decoding the English language. In the same classroom, Calvin has deeply ingrained misconceptions about the definitions of shapes and measurements that impede his learning geometry. Is it possible for teachers to have the tools to address students with such divergent needs?
Educators recognize the importance of calibrating instruction to meet learners’ unique academic requirements. But, creating personalized lesson plans for a classroom of twenty students can be overwhelming. That is why a growing number of educators are turning to technology to scale individualized instruction. However, simply putting students in front of a computer will not necessarily account for learners’ differences. To address learner variation, technology must: 1) provide useful, actionable data; 2) offer student-driven learning paths; and 3) make instruction accessible for all.
1. Provide useful, actionable data
To effectively personalize instruction, technology needs to provide useful data that sheds light on learners’ strengths, challenges, interests, and aptitudes. Educators need to be taught how to use this data to diagnose students’ learning needs, identify the appropriate instruction, and monitor student progress. By revealing students’ strengths and unveiling opportunities, data can help teachers harness and allocate resources more effectively to ensure every student is a confident, capable, lifelong learner.
2. Offer a student-driven learning path
Effective personalized learning programs provide tailored instruction that help all students master content and progress as quickly as possible. Individualized curricula are respectful of each student’s needs and do not force the student to wade through a “one-size-fits-all” curriculum. Successful software offers laser-focused, research-based curricula that provide the exact remediation, practice, or challenge each student needs to advance his or her learning trajectory.
3. Make instruction accessible for all
Learners vary greatly in the ways they process content material. Research confirms that students are better able to understand content when information and tasks are explained using a wide array of modalities and instructional formats that correspond to their unique learning preferences. Studies also show achievement is enhanced when students are provided with multiple ways to develop and express their knowledge.