The April 30, 2016 #satchat conversation was about personalized learning and it led to an active chat. The US Department of Education’s Office of Educational Technology (@OfficeofEdTech) co-moderated as educators from all over the world and of all titles participated. As I reflected on the chat, three questions came to mind about personalized learning for every educator (no matter your title) that we all need to consider. Below are those questions and my thoughts on each:
- How can educators be motivated to engage in personalized learning? Personalized learning needs to be internally motivated. However, sometimes that internal motivation needs something to get it going. That’s where examples provided by other educators come in handy. The modeling of personalized learning, discussing one’s own experiences with personalized learning, and helping other educators find the resources and opportunities for personalized learning are ways to help other educators get started with their own personalized learning. My hope would be that this would then create the internal spark to give it a try and engage in it throughout an educator’s career.
- How can educators assess the benefits of their personalized learning? A sub-conversation / debate developed during #satchat on assessing personalized learning and the metrics used. The sub-conversation was key for me to further understand how others feel about personalized learning. Yes, it’s true that not everything can be measured and not everything should be measured. However, like other things in life we need to determine what is and is not of value to us. This is vitally important when it comes to personalized learning. First, we need internal motivation, second we need to know (or maybe better said, “see”) that our personalized learning is working. Is there a number associated with this? Maybe or maybe not. But there may be some qualitative data to show the value of personalized learning. For me, my personalized learning has resulted in expanding my understanding of educational technology, encouraging others to learn, and sharing what I learn with my staff in a monthly newsletter. Here is an example: https://www.smore.com/n5k2q It has also resulted in a desire to learn more. Some of this can be quantified and some can not. But I do have an ability to assess my own personal learning and this then helps me adjust and adapt it as I go.
- What environment is needed to develop and sustain personalized learning? There’s two parts to this question. The first is an environment organized by school administrators, teacher leaders, and others. In a more “traditional” professional development environment one will struggle with personalized learning because it is fitting a new and individualized opportunity into an older system (think square peg in round hole). However, during these more traditional systems time can be provided for individuals to engage in their own learning as an individual or small group. To do this right we need to be less structured in the expectation and allow the individual to identify and learn what they feel is important to bettering them as a professional educator. I discussed a little of this in a blog post called Rise of the Professional Educator The second part of this question is the environment that one develops from their own learning. How do you create an environment of continual learning as a result of your own personal learning journey. Is that environment at home, at the coffee shop, waiting for an appointment? The interesting thing every educator realizes when they are internally motivated and personally assess their learning is that the learning environment becomes less about where learning can occur and more about making the time in any environment because we all realize personalized learning can happening anywhere, at anytime as long as we are committed to it.
Personalized learning is vital for every educator and can be a valuable tool to advance our profession. It has and continues to help me grow as an educator. What is your personal learning story? What questions come to mind when you think about your learning? Feel free to share in the comments section to continue the conversation.