Personal and Personalized Learning
Friday morning I had the pleasure of hosting Russ Altenburg from the Broad Foundation at Envision Academy in Oakland. It was a wonderful opportunity for me to learn more about our program by experiencing it through a new and different lens, Russ’s lense. It was also an amazing opportunity to hear about resources and programs that Envision can learn from and with.
As part of the experience we invited students to speak with Russ about their experience with Blended Learning. In the mix were students who are now in the 10th grade enrolled in a traditional math course, and students in the 9th grade who are part of our Blended Learning math course. The 10th graders currently enrolled in the traditional math course had participated in the Blended course, as well as the Upside Down exhibition (which has been blogged about extensively in previous blendmylearning posts and was summarized in this Mind/Shift post) in their 9th grade year.
In conversations with students today I realized that Blended Learning and the Upside Down exhibition has made a lasting impression on these young scholars. Many of them reflected on the benefits of having personalized learning opportunities in their Algebra I class, whether they took it last year or are currently enrolled. One student mentioned that all people learn at a different pace and that technology allowed him and his peer’s learning to progress in an individualized manner. While students were very real about some of the limitations of tech-based learning, agreeing that there are moments where they need a face-to-face teacher, they predominantly mentioned appreciating the increased independence that they gain from having access and content to master.
The other important experience that students reflected on was the personal learning that our program allows. Many students clearly remembered the work that they did to identify their learning style, and how they tried to incorporate this into their video tutorials for Upside Down Academy. And even now, a year later, some of them spoke about their learning preferences and how they apply this to their learning in current courses. Knowing themselves as learners continues to play a role in their academic development.
This got me thinking. Blended Learning is not only about person-ALIZED learning but person-AL learning. For our students personal learning comes in the form of awareness, independence, advocacy, and self-monitoring. These attributes are pervasive within the Envision Schools model, and our personalized learning programs only emphasis and improve upon them.
Beyond the work I’ve done with the students, I reflect on the work that I am doing with teachers and see that here too that there is a marriage of personalized and personal learning. Because each school site is unique, and each teacher is unique, my work as an instructional coach is to meet each teacher where he or she is in his or her professional practice. By definition “instructional coaching” is just this, personalize and personal learning. Blended learning demands many new instructional and pedagogical strategies and by consequence new coaching approaches. The work that myself, and my team of blended learning teachers, are doing to developed – a tiered model of personal and personalized learning with a blended learning twist – is exciting.
And, as was made evident to me today, clearly is making a difference.