What is Personalised Learning?
Personalised Learning offers a means of transforming the learning experience of every child. It provides an education that is tailored to the needs, abilities, interests and aptitudes of every student. As such, it is a challenge for schools and teachers, but it also a real opportunity to make a positive impact on young people’s learning and future.
Learning can be personalised within the context of the Curriculum as prescribed by the System, with students being able to develop their learning path in consultation with the teacher or the facilitator of learning. Alternately it can provide a framework for students to pursue their interests through self directed study.
In whatever way that Personalised Learning manifests within a particular context there are several features that are consistent:
- Student Centred
- Self Regulation
- Formative Assessment
- Goal Setting
A Student Centred Learning environment places the focus on the student and their needs and builds the accountability around this, rather than the accountability of the teacher to covering a prescribed curriculum. Being student centred does not discount the requirement of the curriculum but implies greater flexibility in the path through the curriculum that is followed, they way the content is learnt, and they way that the knowledge is demonstrated or evidenced.
Students self regulating their learning requires them to manage the process of learning. To be an effective self regulator students need to know that they don’t know something in order to know it. They develop goal setting skills and become more aware of the steps that are required to learn a new skill or content, and how best to present their new knowledge or skill. Reflective thinking follows the learning process where students can analyse their actions and work and identify new learning paths to follow. To be successful self regulators, students also need to be motivated to learn.
When students are able to analyse their assessment data and take greater levels of ownership they are more aware of their skills and knowledge in the curriculum area of the assessment. Having a clear understanding of what they don’t know from their assessment allows the also to be able to set learning goals and develop learning pathways, because they know that they don’t know something.
Many formats are available to students for setting goals for long, mid and short term purposes. In a Personalised Learning setting, students will be setting many short term goals. The format that the goals are written in is dependent on the level of self regulatory ability the student has. The most suitable method for students setting goals regularly is to use a modified version of the S.M.A.R.T goal framework.
S – Specific. Be clear about what you want to achieve. These can be set from Learn To and Learn About statements that are derived from Content Descriptors of the relevant Domain of the Australian Curriculum.
A – Action. How will you learn it? What will you need to do to learn it? What are the steps you will need to follow? What resources will you need to access to help you learn? How will you show evidence of what you have learnt?
T – Time. How long will you give yourself to achieve this goal? Sometimes goals need to be extended beyond the original amount of time specified.
O – Outcome. Students examine what they have learnt, how they learnt it, and what their next steps on the learning path are going to be.
The ability to reflect on the process of learning and what was learnt is an important skill for a self regulator. This should be a simple recount of what they did, but a critical analysis. Reflection is included in the SATO goals framework as the Outcome step. Students can present evidence of learning with their reflection.
The Personal and Social Capability Domain of the Australian Curriculum contains detailed progression points to aid in the development of students as self regulators. Typically spread over a two year period they cover Self Awareness, Self Management, Social Awareness and Social Management.
Teachers still have an accountability for teaching the content as prescribed in the Australian Curriculum and this can be achieved by monitoring student goals and providing learning opportunities for students. Learning opportunities can be comprised of student choice activities put in place by the teacher, student directed activities where the student designs the learning to reach a desired outcome and explicit teaching in small group and whole group workshop sessions.
Particular content can be delivered to students through the management of software services such as Reading Eggs, LiteracyPlanet and Mathletics. Tasks can be assigned that match student goals and students can independently choose tasks that contribute to them reaching their goal.
Using Technology to Personalise Learning
Personalised learning does not rely on the use of technology, but it does expand the opportunities in both delivering of content and the construction and communication of outcomes and evidence of learning.
Content delivery is achieved by making specific playlists, or collections of resources available to students. These can be custom created by teachers and placed in accessible locations to students, or they can be created within a Learning Management System where students can access.
Students are not limited to exclusively using technology to create evidence of their learning, but by harnessing technology, they are able to publish their work to an authentic and wider audience than may be possible by using non digital methods. A variety of web2.0 applications allow students to do this.
Student portfolios provide a platform for demonstrating their understanding and achievements. Where students are working at a wide range of levels and on varied tasks, portfolios are important for tracking student engagement with learning. The creation and curating of these portfolios is again not limited to being digital, but the use of digital methods opens up new possibilities and opportunities.