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Thursday, April 14, 2016

Six Ways to Support Personalized Learning | EDUCAUSE Review

Photo: Gregory Dobbin
Gregory Dobbin, Senior Editor, EDUCAUSE notes, "In September 2015, EDUCAUSE announced the winners of Integrated Planning and Advising for Student Success (iPASS) grants, which were awarded to 26 institutions from across the United States."

The initiative is intended to help two-year and four-year higher education institutions launch projects to address three broad, student-facing functions: education planning, counseling and coaching, and risk targeting and intervention. The goals of the iPASS initiative have clear connections with personalized learning, which refers to "a broad range of services, tools, and curricular models designed to create individualized learning for students." EDUCAUSE turned to the iPASS grantees — institutions committed to student success — for their thoughts on personalized learning. We asked them:
"What one thing should higher education institutions do to support personalized learning for their students?"
Their responses broke into six themes, mostly — but not uniformly — relevant to both two-year and four-year institutions. (The responses have been edited for length and style.)

1. Focus on Differing Levels of Preparation 
Many respondents pointed to the unevenness in students' preparation for college as a significant and longstanding problem that personalized learning can address.
"Some students need extra support in learning how to be students." (two-year)
"Mitigate the differences in students' prior preparation and allow forward progress in the courses most likely to provide gateways to major and degree." (four-year)
"We know that low-income, first-generation college students need more personalized assistance in navigating college. Getting aid, choosing classes and majors, identifying when things are not going well and knowing where to reach out for help — these are all skills necessary to college success, but they are not equally distributed among the student population. The pairing of new technologies and proactive interventions means that large public universities can now deliver individualized assistance to students at scale." (four-year)
2. Strengthen Student Engagement 
The tools and techniques of personalized learning are seen by many as effective agents in deepening the level of engagement students have with their institution, their instructors, and their education.
"There are several things we should be pursuing, but it boils down to increasing student engagement, including increased time on task and increased interest." (four-year)
"At a community college, the most important single thing to support personalized learning is to establish a personal relationship with each student, focused on individual goals. [...] This foundational personal relationship is only possible by using strategies that can scale, employing cohort-based approaches and technology to save time and effort on the bureaucratic aspects of a student's experience, freeing up resources for authentic interaction." (two-year)
"This process [of documentation and reflection on multiple and diverse learning experiences] makes learning visible to students themselves, helping them connect those experiences and integrate them into a meaningful whole, larger than the sum of the parts. Done well, this process supports a powerful and iterative developmental process of identify formation, which we could talk about as purposeful self-authorship." (two-year)

Additional resources 
Video: What Is Personalized Learning? by Gerry Bayne and Gregory Dobbin 

Source: EDUCAUSE Review and educause Channel (YouTube).