Personalized learning is transforming how we view traditional education. As districts provide more flexibility in instruction and address the specific needs of a student to learn at their own pace, they’ve seen positive results. Many point to increases in test scores and higher graduation rates, among other benefits that directly result from alternative learning methods.
A veteran teacher, Alexis Wiggins, recently shadowed students in a traditional learning environment and was surprised by her observations. She shared her insights in a recent Washington Post article and pointed to the lack of engagement within the classroom. Tight schedules and formal instruction resulted in students passively sitting and listening during 90% of their classes.
Ms. Wiggins’ experience was telling. After having shadowed Cindy, her 10th grade host, she observed how challenging it was for students to sit still and listen for many hours throughout the day, and how often students were told to pay attention. Ms. Wiggins said, “I was struck by how little autonomy students have, how little of their learning they are directing or choosing.”
While Ms. Wiggins makes many timely and apt observations, she also brings to light concerns that could be addressed with an online and blended learning component. When teachers have the ability to create personalized learning experiences for students in an online or blended learning environment—whether in-class, during one period a day in a computer lab, or in a fully online program—students feel more empowered to decide how and when they learn, resulting in improved engagement.
At the end of her study Ms. Wiggins found, “Teachers work hard, but I now think that conscientious students work harder.” To support an engaging learning environment, educators must rethink how they interact within a classroom setting and consider implementing online tools to support active personalized learning.
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To access the full Washington Post article, click here.