4 Ways Schoology Can Help You Personalize Learning
Personalized learning – as a term – is often defined in different ways by different districts, schools, and teachers. But when looking at the various ways people are personalizing learning, the constant and common thread is that personalized learning is student-centered.
Because personalized learning is fundamentally student-centered, the model above (what we call the student-centered learning cycle) can help us think through the “how” of personalizing learning. In addition, Schoology has identified four major pillars of personalized learning approaches: flexible, empowering, mastery-based, and tailored.
PLAN: Design for “Flexible”
One of the most important things about personalizing learning is giving students an opportunity to learn when, where and how it makes the most sense for them. Students should be able to learn anywhere, anytime, and on any device. To that end, when planning for instruction, we must keep that flexibility in mind.
Schoology’s mobile app is one way to address the “anywhere, any device” aspect of flexible learning. While students may have access to laptops or desktops at school (or even at home), many students rely on mobile technology to stay connected. Because assignments, discussions, assessments, calendars, grades, and updates are all available on the mobile app, students don’t need to rely upon laptop or desktop access. Students can also see any badges they’ve received on the app as well as use the app to communicate with teachers or each other. However, be sure that if you’re leveraging other tools for learning that those are also mobile-friendly.
Another way to plan for flexibility is to think about various ways that students can learn at their own pace. Embedding videos or narrated slide decks for students to review inside of a Schoology course allows them the opportunity to revisit concepts and content, stopping when they need to process or re-watching something that they might have missed.
Bottom line: when we’re planning with students at the center, we should be planning for instruction that can be accessed on any device as well as providing ways for students to access content when (and as often) as is needed.
ENGAGE: Empower with Student Choice
Another common thread in the varied definitions of personalized learning is student choice. Not all students will share the same interests or preferences, either for accessing content or for demonstrating understanding, so providing varied avenues for content, process, and product will help engage learners in ways that “one size fits all” cannot.
To provide choice when it comes to content, you can embed or link different types of materials from which students can choose. Perhaps one student would prefer to read an article on a topic while another may prefer to listen to a podcast or maybe watch a video. Add all of those in Schoology so that students have options right within the lesson.
To provide choice when it comes to product (demonstrating understanding), a Schoology assignment allows for different types of submissions that are collected in one space (including multiple revisions). Students can use the audio/video recording tool to record a response, they can upload a file that they’ve created, add a link to something they may have created online or choose something from their resources, maybe from Google Drive or O365. (Coming to Schoology soon will be the Student Choice Activity, which will give even more flexibility for student choice.)
Bottom line: when thinking about how to engage students in the learning, build in opportunities for student choice for content, product and process. And don’t forget about letting students have a choice for multiple submissions if they’d like to act on any feedback you’ve provided.
MONITOR: Leverage the Mastery-based Tools in Schoology
To address the “mastery-based” element of personalizing learning, work that students submit can be aligned to standards so that both teachers and students can have a better understanding of how they are doing. When creating an item in Schoology, teachers can align to built-in standards (including state standards, CCSS, NGSS, etc.), or for those in districts who have a centralized approach, they can choose from ones the district has made available for alignment.
Once students submit work that has been aligned to standards, Schoology can provide a view into progress against those standards. As a teacher, I need to see how students are performing (as a whole) on standards, and the mastery view lets me do exactly that.
Whether looking at district-managed standards like pictured above or using the existing set of standards from CCSS or state standards, the Mastery area shows a teacher which students may need additional support or which students are ready for extension activities. This then allows the teacher to personalize based on the learning needs of the student.
So, what does a student see? In a student-centered learning model, we want students to have a clear picture of their own progress. The student (and parent) view of Mastery shows the student how s/he is doing based on the aligned standards, based on graded or assessed items.
Bottom line: it’s critical for both teachers and students to have a view into learning that is based on standards and learning targets rather than points or holistic grades. By knowing which areas are mastered vs those that are in progress, students can see monitor their own (personalized) progress.
ADJUST: Tailor Learning by Using Individually Assign
Personalized, or student-centered, learning is also about tailoring content for student needs. Once teachers and students have a clear picture of progress against standards, they can focus together on next steps.
The Individually Assign tool in Schoology provides that opportunity right within the platform. Whether a teacher wants to give a specific item to a student or an entire folder, s/he can use the option to individually assign.
Not only can a teacher assign to a single student, but teachers can also assign materials or folders to multiple students or even pre-built groups of students. Other students won’t that content that isn’t assigned to them – and those who have individually assigned items won’t know that they have something different than other students.
Bottom line: after gaining a clear picture of student progress, adjust next steps accordingly by individual, ad hoc sets of students, or pre-built groups.
Getting Started: Use the Student-centered Learning Cycle for Personalizing Learning
While personalized learning might look different in different contexts, Schoology can help at each stage of the student-centered learning cycle. Make sure that you’ve planned for flexible learning to support anytime, anywhere learning. Build in opportunities for student choice to more deeply engage and empower students in the learning process. Monitor progress – and encourage students to monitor their own – by using the mastery-based tools in Schoology, and leverage things like individually assign to customize and tailor the next steps in learning.
Do you have any innovative ways you’re personalizing learning in the classroom? We’d love to hear it on social @Schoology