Topic 4 How to design a Personalized Learning Strategy?

There’s no doubt that personalized experiences, from web browsing to in-store shopping, and even dining out, make for better outcomes. In the realm of education, personalized learning strategies have been in vogue at a small number of education centres for many years now, and there’s ample research to validate that those strategies really do work.

The term “personalization” is a great way to understand the personalized learning definition in the context of adult education. At its simplest, personalization entails tailoring curriculum, andragogy, instructional design approaches and corporate personalized learning environments to fit the unique needs of each learner individually.

Below, we can find some Personalized Learning Strategies that can be used in the learner-educator relation.

  1. Personalised Learning Plans (PLPs)

A PLP refers to a customized instructional plan that takes into account individual differences or needs such as deficiencies, personal abilities, personal interests as well as the proficiency of the learner in the topic. Preparing and implementing PLPs allows for adjusting the pace to individual learners, customizing instructional methods to individual learner characteristics, and having different learning goals tailored to individual learners’ interests.

Having PLPs requires assessment of learners’ various needs and makes learning more effective and motivational as it is customized to individual needs and requires learners to be actively involved in their own learning process. In the process of preparing a PLP, learners can:

a)Actively shape their own learning processes and develop metacognitive skills as they reflect on their interests, career goals, characteristics, and mastery levels;

b)Set goals;

c)Monitor their progress

The PLPs allow learning to be personally relevant, interesting, appropriate to the learners’ capabilities, and respectful of individual differences, which make learning effective and motivational.

How to design a PLP

In order to draft a personalized learning plan an educator must follow a set of steps.

1.First, relevant student data should be collected, such as their career goals, interests, characteristics, deficiencies as well as proficiency levels.

2.Based on the data, the educator, the learner as well as other stakeholders in the process should identify  long-term goals, short-term goals for topics or education standards, projects as vehicles to learn those topics or standards, teams to be involved in for each project, and the student’s roles and responsibilities in each project.

3.The educator should then acquire the tools (digital or otherwise) necessary for the achievement of the learner’s goals and correlate them with the learner’s capabilities.

4.After that, a contract should be developed that specifies all of the above in detail. The contract can be written or verbal. It should developed to be explicit about one’s learning goals and process, to make the goals more measurable and attainable, and to be able to track one’s progress. The educator must consider that the contract must be flexible in order to permit the learner to change his learning goals if the need arises. Based on that flexibility, the contract can be renewed or revised based on the learner’s goals and progress.

  1. Project/Problem Based Learning (PBL)

PBL refers to any learner-centered instructional method that engages learners in an authentic, complex, ill structured, and open-ended learning challenge including problem-based learning. PBL comes highly recommended as an effective way to customize instruction to individual learners. It is an appropriate tool for PL, because it allows learners to select learning content that they are interested in, to choose preferred methods to learn, and to advance at paces that they are comfortable with, covering all three levels of personalization.

PBL presents several educational benefits. It can be effective and motivating because it engages learners in a way that is personally relevant, interesting, appropriate to the competency level, and comparable to real-world situations, with appropriate guidance. It can be effective for certain types of learning or assessment levels, including long-term retention, principle understanding, and applying concepts and principles.

In order for PBL to be effective, it must be delivered by the educator with ample guidance on how to perform the tasks  set. The learning process of PBL helps the learners to develop critical thinking, problem solving, and creative thinking skills while solving complex problems or creating artifacts and to hone collaboration and communication skills while collaboratively performing projects. The learners can develop meta-cognitive skills while planning one’s own learning process, monitoring their progress, and reflecting on what they have learned and their learning strategies. As they take ownership, an active role, and responsibility in their learning process, they become more motivated and self-directed.

How to design a PBL

In order to draft a Project/Problem Based Learning Plan, an educator must consider that many variations of PBL exist and have been researched but educational researchers share a common understanding of how PBL should be designed and implemented to realize the multiple learning outcomes that have been claimed.

The problem or inquiry should be complex, ill structured, open-ended, cross-disciplinary, appropriate to the learners’ abilities, personally-relevant and interesting, valued in the real world, and grounded in the content domain to be learned.

In order for it to be effective, the PBL process should have the following characteristics:

1.Should provide appropriate instructional and non-instructional guidance

2.Should provide an opportunity for self and peer assessment and reflection.

3.It must define a way to measure the progress of the learner

4.Must be effectively facilitated by the educator.

  1. Competency-Based Student Progress (CBSP)

CBSP refers to adjusting a lerner’s progress based on his academic mastery, in contrast to the current practice of time-based student progress. CBSP personalizes the learning pace of individual learners, so that everyone can reach mastery on the current topic and move to the next one once that mastery will be reached.

The time-based student progress school model forces learners to move on to the next topic regardless of their mastery of the current topic which ignores one of the important principles of learning – that new knowledge is effectively constructed when it is built upon pre-existing knowledge, and that forcing learners to move on without reaching mastery inhibits deep understanding of the subject matter.

The traditional learning system, in which every student spends the same amount of time on learning subjects, was designed to fail learners with low aptitude. When learners are given sufficient time and opportunities to master the current topic they:

1.Will reach a deeper understanding of the subject when moving on to the next topic

2.Will spend more time on a task than if waiting for the classroom to finish,

3.Will demonstrate increased attitudes and interest for the topic,

4.Will demonstrate an achievement level higher than the average learner in the conventional group.

How to design a CBSP

Here are some guidelines for creating CBSP:

1.Administer constant formative tests with a feedback/corrective process,

2.Organise group-based learning for the learners to help each other on the items that they missed

Another way of seeing the guidelines for a personalized system of instruction:

1.Learners move through the course at their own pace using the tools at their disposal;

2.In order for them to move to the next topic they are required to master the current one;

3.The lectures and demonstrations will be used for motivation rather than for delivery of content,

4.written study guides and digital tools will be used to direct student learning,

5.Online/electronic test administrating tools will be used for repeated testing, scoring and tutoring.

The two sets of guidelines can be summarized by three principles.

A.Ongoing formative assessments should take place to identify difficulties in the attainment of learning objectives.

B.There should be corrective procedures immediately followed by assessments via tutoring, or group-based learning,

C.learners must demonstrate mastery to move on to the next topic.

  1. Criterion-Referenced Assesment

CRA evaluates whether learners have mastered a certain skill or competency. It represents a narrowly and precisely defined domain. CRA serves PL for the purposes of ongoing assessment and summative assessment.

The importance of ongoing formative assessment has been emphasized as a way to understand each learner’s learning needs, track learner progress towards learning goals, and select appropriate instructional materials based on each learner’s needs. The formative assessment combined with corrective procedures on learning has a significant impact on the learner’s performance.

CRA serves these purposes of assessment because

a)it helps thoroughly evaluate whether learners have reached a high enough level of mastery on the current topic to move on

b)it identifies specific learning needs,

c)it allows tracking of individual progress towards their learning goals.

How to design a CRA

1.The domain to be tested should be narrowly and precisely defined, and there should be enough items to thoroughly cover the content.

2.Deciding on an appropriate tools to be used (digital, apps or otherwise) and mastery level is critical. The tools selected should be appropriately varied so that they will satisfy the learning/assistance needs of every learner, no matter of his impairment or his mastery level. The mastery level selected should be high enough for the tested knowledge to be used by the student to build related new knowledge.

3.The teachers must share a clear understanding of what learners need to demonstrate before they advance to higher levels.

The role of digital technology

The complex and flexible nature of the four strategies warrants a great emphasis on the role of technology for the PLS. As much as PL sounds promising, implementing a LPS can be extremely complicated, costly, and even impossible without the help of powerful and advanced technology, as technology plays a pivotal role as assessing, recording, and analyzing student performance, providing a greater range of learning resources and opportunities, and managing individual learning activities. Therefore, careful consideration and proper investment should be allocated to a technological system that can effectively and successfully implement LPS when creating a PL environment, whether we are talking about

There are much to be said about Personalized Learning Strategies, as it is a complex field of development with multiple ramification.

Within this topic, we have tried to define a few types of personal learning strategies, along with their characteristics and advantages.

It is very important that the particularities of each PLS to be taken into consideration when applying it in the general learning strategy of the classroom.