Methods of Personalisation

In my current practice, I have come across many different perspectives of what personalised learning is, and the different ways it can be implemented according to your context.
Earlier this year I heard from Dan Buckley from Cambridge Education (http://www.camb-ed.net/pbyp/) and their method of personalisation. In formalising the approach at my school we borrowed a few key ideas, namely Personalisation by the Learner (PbL) and Personalisation for the Learner (PfL). This has helped us to distinguish between the different practices and identify them more clearly.
With PfL we use student achievement data from a range of sources to help us create ability based maths and writing convention groups.
PbL is used in spelling, interest based writing and inquiry for humanities and science. This has helped to boost engagement and connectedness for the students. When our students are happy and enjoying their work, the teaching team feel similarly enthused and motivated.

Context specific

Personalised Learning can manifest itself in many different forms.  The way it manifests is entirely dependent on the requirements of the context and by which level the context is student centric.

In a teacher centric context, personalisation is difficult to realise, as the teacher is not willing to give away the control of the learning process to the students.

In a student centric context, the students are able to determine the learning path that they follow, and is supported by the students knowledge of their own achievement and future requirements for learning.

Classrooms…why?

I cobbled these thoughts together after reading comments made on a blog post here about Rupert Murdoch describing education as not changing much over 50 years, in which he is reasonably correct.  The content may have changed slightly, but the method of delivery is the same.  How is that useful for a 21st Century Learner, or a 21st Century Teacher?

“Think four walls, door, tables and chairs, whiteboard/blackboard at the front with a teacher standing in front delivering content.  I think that’s what Murdoch meant.  And if you walk into any number of classrooms this very day, that is what you will see, unless you read this post on a Saturday or Sunday.
A modern classroom should provide flexibility, in spaces and furniture.  Students shouldn’t be constrained to the rows of tables facing the front as was the Industrial / Mechanical age model.  21st Century education is an opportunity for flexibility, personalisatoin of learning and development of competencies that will help students be self sufficient learners.
Personalised learning is targetted at specific student needs, based on formative assessment (assessment for learning) which identifies the learning needs.  Learning paths are developed to meet each students needs.  It does not need to be technology driven, but ICT is a key enabler.”
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rhMkjkwBJ3w]

The video shows the setting in which I work with the flexible furniture that the students use.  While not everyone has access to such fine resources, everyone has the option to shift from teacher centric models of education to student centric education.

Competencies For Learning

At my school, we are developing a set of competencies that will assist our students to become capable 21st Century students that have a set of skills that will enable them to work effectively in a range of situations.  Our competencies are taken from the Partnership for 21st Century skills. (www.p21.org)

The 4 C’s:

  • Creativity
  • Communication
  •  Collaboration
  • Critical Thinking

Creativity

In  Changing Education Paradigms,  Sir Ken Robinson says that by design, schools stifle the creativity of students, by boxing them into a ‘one size fits all’ method of education.  Out students come to school creative, but leave after being moulded to the be the same as many others.  We need to allow students to show their creativity and to think for themselves.  To help them to create innovative solutions to problems that they will face as they grow older and contribute to society.

Communication

As the world becomes smaller and globalisation takes hold, our students need to be able to communicate with people from diverse backgrounds.  Effectively communicating in different situations and for different purposes will be vital for success in the 21st Century.

Collaboration

Working with others to achieve a goal will be necessary for success in the 21st Century.  The people our students work with may not be in the same office, or even the same building, but could be in another part of the world, working on the same project in a different time zone.  Forming relationships, and recognizing the strengths, weaknesses and abilities of other group members and capitalizing on those for the benefit of the group.

Critical Thinking

Students have an incredible amount of information available to them at the tips of their fingers through ‘net connected devices.  However, sometimes this information may not be accurate, and could easily be out of date by the time the students get to it.  Developing the ability in our students to reason, deduce, evaluate and reflect on the information that is available to them will enable them to make informed decisions about what it useful or not.