Monday, December 31, 2012

10 Predictions for Personalized Learning for 2013

The main change that will happen in teaching and learning in 2013 will be about empowerment. Teachers and learners will be more empowered to take charge of their learning. We will see this through the evidence they share as they learn.

  1. Connected Learners: Teachers and learners of all ages are connecting more than ever. In 2013, we will see teachers expanding their Personal Learning Networks (PLN) using social media. They will be telling more stories and sharing their journeys as they personalize learning. Learners will be using mobile devices for learning in and out of school. We will be seeing learners involved in more global collaborative projects in 2013.

  2. Mobile Devices: When any learner uses a mobile device, it is personal. That is, unless the learning has been "adapted" to the learner by algorithms detecting performance and click rates. Mobile devices provide the learner opportunities to access learning resources, but the learner need to understand how they learn best so they know which resources are the most appropriate for them. Technology can support the learner but not lead the learner down paths that may not meet their learning goals. The learner needs to take responsibility for their learning so they drive it. Not the technology driving their learning. More schools will be moving to BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) and changing AUPs to include the use of mobile devices. Even the White House created a BYOD Toolkit. We'll be writing more about how this impacts teaching and learning.

  3. Communities of Practice: Teachers are reaching out to connect with each other to talk about best practices. They discuss issues in their faculty rooms, halls, and at conferences. Now they are joining online communities to share and learn from others around the world. We started a Community of Practice on Personalized Learning in LinkedIn that is growing daily with educators around the world. We are setting up Communities of Practice in My eCoach for schools and organizations who want to discuss, learn, and share ideas about personalizing learning in a private and secure area online. They also wanted a place to co-author lessons aligned to Common Core State Standards and publish for their learners. We setup a Community of Practice for the state of Iowa and look forward to some lively discussions there. We will see more Communities of Practices set up in 2013.

  4. Evidence of Learning: Assessment will look different in 2013. It will happen AS learners are learning. They will be collecting evidence and reflecting on the evidence all along instead of waiting until a test. More schools will be moving to Common Core standards-based grading and using ePortfolios. In some cases, learning will be competency-based where learners will demonstrate mastery using authentic assessment strategies instead of standardized tests. We plan to write more on competency-based approaches and share ePortfolios of teachers and learners. We predict assessment will be one of the biggest changes in education in 2013. Look for more feedback loops, libraries of lessons, and ePortfolios.

  5. Taking Risks: Teachers will have more flexibility in their schedules to try new strategies. Administrators are changing how they do teacher evaluations and not basing evaluations only on test scores. We did this too long and it didn't work. We believe districts will take a stand on how important teachers are and the impact they make on children's lives. Some teachers are flipping the classroom and spending more time in the classroom on real-world project work. We believe that more teachers will start flipping the learning so learners take charge of their learning. Learners will be involved in designing their learning with teachers as partners in their learning. We will see more teachers being showcased, because they took risks and had the support they needed so each learner could reach their learning goals. We believe that 2013 will have some very exciting examples and models to share.

  6. Storytelling: It's really all about the stories. Gillian Locke, a senior in Wisconsin, shared her story about having freedom to choose how she learns. Here's a quote from her blog:

    "Every student is different, and each one needs different things. Every school in the US has the potential to deliver personalized learning to each of its students-it will just take some creativity, some time, and some dedicated students, administrators, and teachers."

    Teachers are blogging more and using social media to share their stories. We believe that it will be about the stories and journeys that teachers, learners, and organizations share that will make a difference. We only know what we know and don't know what we don't know. Sounds simple, right? 2013 will be the year of stories. We look forward to sharing more stories and journeys with you.

  7. Learner Voice and Choice: The expert learner has a voice and choice in their learning. They self-regulate and drive their learning. We know this takes time and developed the Three Stages of Personalized Learning. Stage One is teacher-centered with learner voice and choice. Moving from a traditional or legacy approach of teaching to encouraging learner's to have a voice in how they learn and a choice in how they express what they know is a huge culture shift for schools.  Because more teachers and learners will be more connected than ever, we will hear their voice. In 2013, look for more YouTube Channels of teachers with example lessons that include how learners have a voice and choice in their learning.

  8. Unpacking Standards: Common Core State Standards open doors to more creativity and flexibility in learning. More real-world connections make the standards more authentic for learners. We are also seeing this in standards from other countries: the UK, Australia, Canada and others. The world is getting smaller and flatter. Learners want to own their learning very early and can do that by unpacking the standards with their teachers. It is time to bring back inquiry and encourage questions that have no right answers. We believe that in 2013 we will see lessons driven by questions that learners thought of that will blow your minds. Children are amazing and it's time to give them responsibility for what they need to learn to meet their learning goals.

  9. Transforming Learning Environments: When teachers move to Stage One Personalized Learning Environments, they realize they are not the expert any more in the room. The environment of desks facing forward just doesn't work a work. Kevin McLaughlin started personalizing learning one year ago and realized that to personalize learning, you need to  allow the learners to move around, to interact with their peers, to sit anywhere with anyone, to use the floor space as well as a table and not to use groupings of any sort unless there is a specific reason for it. Chris Edwards saw how it worked for Kevin and transformed his classroom of year 2 learners. He calls it "messy learning." His story about getting lost in Greenland is priceless. Lisa Welch and Wanda Richardson are Kindergarten teachers in Wisconsin as part of CESA #1 who co-teach in a K-2 team. They opened doors and created inviting and engaging environments. Look for more stories in 2013 from CESA #1 and other places around the world where they are transforming learning.

  10. Building a Common Language: Over the past few years, we have been hearing about personalized learning with different definitions. Is it about technology or not? We have a consensus from some of the leaders around the world who take a similar position that Personalized Learning is the umbrella or big picture that connects the dots. The dots are initiatives, programs, and methodologies a school or district are currently implementing. From the participants in our 5 W's of Personalized Learning eCourse, we now know that the most important piece is building a common language around Personalized Learning before you start transforming learning. We have seen districts spend money on 1:1 programs, but not change teaching strategies. 2013 is the year we will see and participate in exciting discussion about this common language.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Student-Centered Learning in Action

At Massabesic Middle School, Waterboro, ME, middle school students unpack the standards and assess their own learning and learning of others. Take a moment to watch this video to see what student-centered learning looks like and how they demonstrate learner voice and choice. This is an example of what we have been describing as voice and choice and self-directing their learning.

"For so many years, students would receive grades and not know where they came from, what assignments led up to them, how they would be assessed. Now they're involved in not only creating the units and deciding how they will assess themselves, but also how they will assess each other. [Source]

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Personalized Learning Umbrella

Personalized Learning is the "umbrella" or the big picture of transforming teaching and learning. Schools and districts are confused about all the initiatives and how they fit with personalizing learning. Many of the initiatives and programs that are implemented in a school or district can contribute to personalized learning.

The term "Personalized Learning" is confusing. Personalized learning is all about the learner and starts with the learner. It is about the learner self-directing and driving their own learning. A teacher can flip the classroom, provide 1:1 mobile devices for each learner and this can still not be characterized as personalizing learning. If the class is still teacher-centered and learners have no voice and choice how they learn, it is not personalizing learning. If learners are using mobile devices with adaptive curriculum, the technology is personalizing learning for the learner. There is no stake in learning for the learner. Adaptive curriculum can support a personalized learning path, but it is not personalizing learning for the learner.

Personalized learning means learners...
  • know how they learn best.
  • self-direct and self-regulate their learning.
  • design their own learning path.
  • have a voice in and choice about their learning.
  • are co-designers of the curriculum and the learning environment.
  • have flexible learning anytime and anywhere.
  • have quality teachers who guide their learning.
  • use a competency-based model to demonstrate mastery.
  • are motivated and engaged in the learning process.

So when you consider different approaches that have been labeled as Personalized Learning, they may be right, somewhat. Here are some initiatives or school or district based programs that fall under the umbrella of Personalized Learning:

Blended learning means combining face-to-face with online learning opportunities or a hybrid model. This contributes to personalizing learning. Learners can take advantage of multiple opportunities to meet their learning goals by choosing online courses that might not be available on campus.

Competency-based education (CBE) is an initiative that changes assessment strategies so the learner advances by demonstrating mastery instead of relying on time-based systems or grade levels. There is a movement toward CBE around the country. For more information, go to Competency Works.

RTI (Response to Intervention) is a method of academic intervention to provide early, systematic assistance to children who are having difficulty learning. When you personalize learning using UDL principles, you and the learner are identifying learning difficulties and developing strategies for intervention.

Flipped Classrooms are when the teacher posts the instructional material in the form of videos, text, links, and resources for learners to review outside of the classroom. Providing access to the curriculum for all learners is at the core of personalizing learning.

1:1 means that each learner has some type of device for learning. Just putting a device in a learner's hands doesn't mean they own their learning. However, if a learner knows how they learn best and owns their learning, they need access to the apps and tools that support their learning.

Project-Based Learning (PBL) involves learners in engaging activities. However, in most cases, the teacher is designing the project, the roles, the responsibilities, outcomes, and products. To personalize PBL for all learners, the learners can co-design the project, offer a voice in how it is designed, and choose how they will demonstrate mastery.


All of these and more fit under the Personalized Learning Umbrella. It is important to connect the dots of all initiatives and programs under this umbrella of Personalized Learning instead of adding one more initiative. You will find that it flows, it works, and they fit. All of these elements described above, in the end, will support all learners to help them reach their fullest potential and to be fully prepared for college and career.