5200 SW Meadows Rd. Ste. 150 Lake Oswego, OR 97035 info@cmasas.org
(503) 226-7374 Student/Parent Login

So...What is Personalized Education Exactly?

10 Sep

So...What is Personalized Education Exactly?

Posted By: 
Chris Geis

Jun 3, 2014 6:00:00 AM

We care deeply about personalized education. Why? Because 1:1 education is possible today like never before and your child deserves personal attention. Let’s keep in mind that we all learn at an individualized pace. 

To dig deep into what exactly “personalized education” means, we recently asked CMA-SAS staff a few questions about personalized education. Here are their responses:

Q: In a nutshell, what is personalized education? 

A: Cass Excell: Curriculum Developer -- Humanites

Personalized Education -- Exactly that. Everything from assignments and units to entire courses are personalized and tailored to each individual student's interests, goals, needs, and learning styles.

As an instructor, it makes my day when students make personalization requests -- I love it when they ask if they could create a children's book or short YouTube skit in the place of an essay. It's good for everyone involved -- the lesson is made memorable for the student, and I feel it lets me get to know them as people more than if they had stuck to the traditional methods. 

Perhaps the most memorable customization I've made to a course was with a student who really struggled with text-based learning. We developed a system where, once or twice a week, I would call him and we would go over the lessons and any questions he had. This is also how he preferred to demonstrate mastery -- going over each assignment prompt first and having a detailed conversation about it made it easier for him to turn in an essay or PowerPoint later on.

Q: As an instructor how do you personalize a student's experience? 

A: Lynne Dolph: Instructor, Curriculum Developer -- Visual Arts, Science 

Most of my courses have multiple options built into the course structure. The structure of the courses is consistent, so that it is easy to understand. Students can easily switch options for particular units and assignments as needed.

All initial welcome messages and communications discuss and offer customization. Feedback for assignments and projects routinely offer personalization suggestions. Many students are successful with the more typical options within a course. On occasion, additional modifications are made. This can be from a little to fairly extensive.

Welcome messages and questionnaires invite students to participate in ongoing communication throughout a course. Communication is key for the best personalization to happen. Feedback for assignments often offer recommendations for personalization based on the student’s work. Very often additional online and other learning resources are recommended; this is most often through assignment feedback, but also by email, Skype, or online meetings as needed.

Always, the learning of and demonstrating mastery of competencies in a meaningful manner for the student is at the heart of personalization. The number and type of assignments and projects are adjusted as needed in light of this.

Many of my courses are highly customized in nature; this is particularly true of arts courses, but some science courses are of this type too. Every student working with these courses has a highly personalized experience by default. Although there are core projects that are useful for many students, even these are generally personalized.

On occasion, I work with students that need very extensive personalization. There are generally several reasons for this:

  • The student is a special-needs student for whom the most typical learning resources are not at all appropriate.
  • The student is beginning a course in the second semester and swapping of units is needed to ensure complete coverage of competencies of the course.
  • The student has unique learning resources or major activities available that they want to include as part of the course. (This has been quite exciting in many cases.)

Q: As a PEC how do you personalize a  student's experience?

A: Camille Zimmerman: Personalized Education Coach (PEC) -- Secondary/Elementary 

Personalized education is one that is unique to each individual student.  It starts with unique enrollment periods for every student, completing assignments based on the learning style of each student, self-paced,  access 24-7 and one-on-one student teacher interaction.

As a PEC, I get to know my students and the interests they have.  I make sure they are put into the correct classes and if they are not happy or if teachers are not responding to their emails I intervene and work with the teachers to modify their curriculum and if they are elementary students I modify it myself. 

I involve each of them in homeroom and our homeroom website that we have created so that they can get to know each other and connect.  I set up pacing and follow up with them each week if they don’t attend homeroom to see how they are doing.

Let us know what you think and how you define personalized education. How do you picture your child learning most effectively?