Personalized learning is, as I see it, the highest form of learning design. It forces me to think about backward design, scaffolding, differentiation, assessment, reflection, the purpose of grading and mastery learning. The plunge, oh the plunge, required me to redesign the entire learning structure for students. Rather than use Schoology as an LMS I opted to create a public wiki. Garth Holman actually changed my mind about using an LMS because he said he wanted his student's learning wide open to the world and not closed off behind an LMS. Now, I love Schoology and what it can do, but my student's learning wasn't open to the world. In other words, it wasn't a global classroom.
The plunge is providing students with a variety of projects to complete using their interests to drive their pursuit of learning. Students come to class and learn about their topic of choice while completing projects. Projects can be completed by individual students or as groups - they decide. I proposed 8 and student proposed another 9 for a total of 17 projects. I've taken it a step further. If students want to complete a project they don't see, they can design their own learning. One page on the wiki is set up just for students to propose their project ideas, what they want to learn, what product they'll complete, and how they should be assessed. Now, let's take it another step further. I've opened the wiki for every student to edit every page giving them the power to improve the learning experiences. That's right, they can edit the wiki to improve what I've already written. Yeah, they can do that.
This plunge puts all the power in the hands of students and puts me in the position to just be a learning coach. Yeah, they have all the power.
The class decided how many projects they complete which includes 2 required projects. The two required are Digital Citizenship and Google Search. Presently these are under construction but students have plenty to do.
So, what do students have to do?
- Choose topics of interest as the basis for learning.
- Students prove learning by completing learning targets. This can be in a Google Doc, Padlet, a wiki page, or some other way.
- Fulfill the project expectations.
- Use guiding questions to focus their work.
- An use a rubric to make sure they are completing proficient work. They are coached to self-assess every class period.
- Each student has to make a list of tasks and create a plan to accomplish them. The tasks come directly from the learning targets and they use a to-do list app to manage what they need to accomplish.
- Students reflect on their learning every week. At first this will happen in "What stuck with you?" and then become their own creation.
The beauty of this learning design is that just about all of it is student directed. They decide their learning path. They decide the content. They push themselves to do awesome work because it's their work and it's going to be shared with the world. They are making the choices without me pushing. I'm the coach and that's how I like it. Yeah, they can do all of this.
Yeah, they can do all of this is the title of the post because we assume students can't manage their own learning, because we assume they can't make a plan, because we assume they aren't ready. Students are more than ready to accept the challenge. They are ready to engage in deep learning with high expectations. Yeah, they can do this.