From Blended to Personalized

Carmen A. Barrera is a STEM content interventionist and instructional coach at Dorothy Linder Elementary. She has 10 years of experience in blended learning and building connections with students. Follow her on Twitter @BarreraC_123

A lot has changed in these past few years regarding technology. We have 1:1 devices and a basic understanding of BLEND or Seesaw due to pandemic push of technological learning and access. There has been amazing growth from both teachers and students. We have assignments online where blended learning and collaboration occurs, students each have their own device, though they are still learning how to properly care for these such devices, and teachers have a huge leg up on the knowledge the pandemic has forced us to learn with better integrating content, making for a truly blended classroom experience. At times it begs the question of what’s next? What is there left to do?

I felt almost stuck in a box of what I already have done with how I organize my BLEND modules and have students interact and collaborate with each other through blended learning. I would create projects and have students choose their own learning pathways. As I thought about what’s next, I kept getting more and more curious about personalized learning. What is the difference between personalized learning and blended learning? Is some blended learning already personalized learning? What truly makes it “personalized”?

As I dug deeper into this topic, I have come to realize that the natural progression from blended learning is personalized learning. As teachers, we adapt our teaching to meet the needs of all students while integrating their interests, preferences and curiosities. We grow students’ strengths and develop what skills they need. Analyzing data with the student and having data conversations on what they notice and how they feel about their growth in certain areas and from there coming up with a plan or pathway to continue their learning at their own pace. None of this is new though it is just putting everything teachers have done or thought about into one name and that is personalized learning. Technology for enhanced personalized learning is just one more tool teachers can utilize to truly expand their reach to more students that is made possible with the use of incorporating blended and personalized learning.

So how do you jumpstart personalized learning? Chances are, you already have the major components in your day to day teaching and overall philosophy. Keep learning about your students and your students learning about themselves as learners and setting goals. Collaborate with each other to develop plans and pathways to progress their specific learning needs, continue to grow their strengths, while incorporating their interests and preferences and of course reach out to colleagues who are here to support your continued learning.

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