Virtual School Meanderings

July 23, 2019

EDTECH537 – Guest Blog Entry: Technology Powered With Purpose -The Tech Tools Of Personalized Learning

As I mentioned in the Week 4 entry for my EDTECH537 – Blogging In The Classroom course yesterday, today I wanted to post a sample of a guest blog entry.

Anissa Vega is an Associate Professor of Instructional Technology in the Bagwell College of Education at Kennesaw State University.  She also holds the responsible of Online Teaching Endorsement/Certificate Coordinator at KSU.  In 2017, Anissa was the recipient of the University System of Georgia Board of Regents Teaching Excellence Award for Online Teaching for her work with both credit and noncredit courses (such as the K-12 Blended & Online Learning MOOC).

I teach a graduate class about personalized learning, where I engage in a one-on-one video-chat conversation with each student 4-5 times throughout the semester, also referred to as co-planning conversations. Through over-150 hours of these conversations over the past 14 months, I have noticed a pattern in how my students, mostly K-12 teachers, perceive technology uses for personalized learning. Initially, many confuse either technology integration or blended learning as synonymous with technology for personalized learning. We often talk out the overlap and try to open our minds to the vast variety of possible classroom systems that could support learner agency and individual pacing. Then, we discuss what systems are needed, and how our purposes for the technology dictate the technology selected. Across these conversations, we have collectively come up with five common reasons to use technology for personalized learning. It has been a while since I we have added any items to this list, so I would like to expand the conversation with the online community. So far, our Kennesaw State University community of learners, comprising of over 120 educators, has identified the following five uses of technology for personalized learning:

  1. To present and organize content for individual pacing: This is often the first purpose my students identify. Tool types that fit in here typically support blended or online learning as a means for introducing and explaining new concepts or processes to learners. They include adaptive learning software (iReady, Newslea, ALEKS, etc.), LMS and video recording software combinations used to “flip” direct instruction (Canvas, itsLearning, YouTube, OneNote, Khan Academy, etc.) and comprehensive e-learning packages (Fuel Education, Edison Learning, or Edgenuity).
  2. To track individual growth: Assessment and data tools help to generate formative student data that can inform the teacher and parents of a student’s progress in learning and if they have additional needs moving forward. Tools that fit this purpose include adaptive testing tools (MAP Assessment, iReady, USATestprep, etc.), quizzing tools (Quizziz, Kahoot, Socrative, etc.), and survey tools (Google Forms, PollEverywhere, etc.).
  3. To organize and communicate complex knowledge: Websites (Weebly, GoogleSites, etc.), blogs (Edublogs, Blogger, etc.), or digital portfolios (Seesaw, WeLearnedIt, etc.) can all serve to organize and share the products and evidence of student learning that was acquired through student-centered activity such as service learning, project-based learning, or problem-based learning. The evidence housed in these tools may be organized by a timeline, curriculum standard, or competencies.
  4. To establish student self-management behaviors: Without students managing their own behaviors and co-designing their learning experiences, personalized learning that incorporates student-centered pedagogies can be overwhelming and unsustainable. Learners need to have the skills to self-manage throughout the day in a personalized setting. Tools that might be used for this purpose include ClassDojo or RedCritter. Additionally, students might reflect on how their time was spent each day and set new short term goals using a blogging (Edublogs, Blogger, etc.) or journaling (OneNote, Google Word, etc.) tool to support time management and self-starting behaviors.
  5. To offer student choice in demonstration of mastery: Personalized learning requires learners to employ agency in their learning experience, and choice in mastery demonstration is one way agency may be practiced. The tools that fit here are too many to count, because the teacher will not make this selection for the learner. For younger learners, s/he may provide a limited selection of choices on a “choiceboard” with tool or activity options such as Flipgrid, Popplet, Kidblog, etc. In other scenarios, a teacher may leave the choices open and primarily up to the learner. Student choices might include anything from websites, screencasts, or infographics, to traditional papers.

Some models of personalized learning focus heavily on the first use that focuses in on individual pacing as seen in schools supported by Fuel Education or the Summit Curriculum. However, other models of personalized learning also employ student-centered pedagogies with project-based learning as seen in Fulton County Schools. Given these five purposes of technology, do you see any gaps? How are you using technology to support a model of personalized learning? Comment and share below.

Author note: The references to specific software tools in this blogpost are not an endorsement or evaluative statement of these tools by the author. They are only included for illustrative purposes and other tools of varying quality are also available beyond those mentioned here. For evaluative information on any tools mentioned here or alternatives, visit www.CommonSense.org/education.

Anissa Vega is an Associate Professor of Instructional Technology at Kennesaw State University. She regularly teaches KSU’s K-12 Blended & Online Learning MOOC.  As is the pattern here at Virtual School Meanderings, there will be no additional entries posted today.

2 Comments »

  1. Anissa, first I wanted to thank you for providing a guest entry for my blog this year. This post is your first contribution to my blog, but I do hope that it isn’t your last. I also hope that the description of you is okay, as I had to make it up on my own given that you’re in the process of tearing your bathroom apart on your own (but the pictures look great thus far).

    I appreciate the practitioner tone and focus you took with this entry. I suspect that many of my entries suffer from too much of an academic or research focus, so it was nice to see that in your contribution.

    Comment by Michael K. Barbour — July 23, 2019 @ 10:27 am | Reply

  2. […] Guest Blog Entry: Technology Powered With Purpose -The Tech Tools Of Personalized Learning […]

    Pingback by EDTECH537 – End Of Course | Virtual School Meanderings — August 17, 2019 @ 7:03 am | Reply


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