Personalized learning supports a diverse student body
The research shows that diversity in today’s students is greater than ever before. In fact, a conservative 30-40% of students may require an alternate learning path or support during their learning. Personalized learning comes into play with such a high level of learner diversity. Superintendent of the Vista Unified School District, CA, Dr. Devin Vodicka and Chief Innovation Officer at Digital Promise Vic Vuchic made the case for personalized learning in the edWeb.net webinar, “Making Learning Personal for All: The Growing Diversity of Today’s Classroom,” sponsored by Digital Promise.
Research and technology are key to improving personalized learning. Technology helps gather research that improves the precision of personalization by exploring important topics to personalize around. Since all students have different strengths and weaknesses, personalized learning is a growing importance. “With this level of diversity, if we don’t start building on the research and understanding of how kids vary, then we risk creating products and programs that are designed for the average,” said Vic, highlighting that by designing for the average student, we are not actually designing for any student.
Dr. Vodicka went on to describe Vista Unified School District’s journey to personalized learning. Although the community liked the idea of personalizing learning around the student, they didn’t know what it meant for the district. The district tackled this issue by creating a five-point framework for personalized learning, consisting of the student profile; technology (as a tool, not a driver); a personal learning path, where students exercise choice; the learning environment, which must be dynamic and flexible; and a competency-based approach, where students set personal goals tied to real-world applications. “Put students in a place where they can drive their learning and exercise a lot more choice,” said Dr. Vodicka.
Since implementing personalized learning, the Vista Unified School District has seen improved attendance, reduced behavior problems, more students opting into higher levels of challenges, and increased graduation rate. Dr. Vodicka also mentioned that students were crucial contributors and codesigners of the district’s personalized learning plan. When starting a personalized learning journey, he recommended listening to students and asking for feedback on things like how they can be more connected to the school and enthusiastic about school. Then, using that feedback to tap into the potential within each learner.
This article was modified and published by eSchool News.
About the Presenters
Dr. Devin Vodicka, Superintendent of Vista Unified School District, was recognized as 2016 California Superintendent of the Year by the American Association of School Administrators and 2015 Superintendent of the Year by Pepperdine University; and received the 2015 California Superintendent of the Year award by the Association of California School Administrators and the Innovative Superintendent Award from the Classroom of the Future Foundation in 2014. Nationally recognized as a courageous innovator and thoughtful leader, Dr. Vodicka’s education career began in the classroom over 20 years ago, when he taught English learners in Los Angeles. He has held numerous leadership roles including principal, director of curriculum and instruction, and chief business official in the Carlsbad Unified School District.
Vic Vuchic, Chief Innovation Officer, Digital Promise, is a seasoned thought leader in education technology and philanthropy. He is an expert in learning science, innovation, and scaling what works and has launched game-changing initiatives that have increased access to education and improved learning for tens of millions of learners in the Americas, Europe, Asia and Africa. Prior to Digital Promise Global, Vic consulted with a number of foundations and organizations on education technology, innovation and philanthropy. Prior to consulting, Vic developed strategies and managed over $100 million in technology-focused grants at the Hewlett Foundation to launch and grow the Open Educational Resources movement and create and advance the Deeper Learning strategy.
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