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Personalised learning: How does it work?

Is personalised learning better than traditional classroom teaching methods? Does using technology in a class always improve learning? And when can you implement personalised learning in classrooms? Conversations surrounding personalised or blended learning systems of education are sometimes blurry and assume that technology is meant to replace teachers. Let’s clear this up a little, take a look at what these terms really mean and how teachers and students alike can benefit from personalised learning.

 

What is personalised learning?

Every child is different, with unique abilities, needs and interests – so why should learning be the same? Personalised learning is a system of education where learning is driven by the students rather than the teacher. In a traditional classroom setting, a teacher teaches to the average – which means that some students lag behind while others are not challenged enough.

A personalised learning system allows every child to learn at their own pace while also enabling teachers to use their skills more effectively and reach out to those that need help. Since one teacher cannot focus on every child individually, personalised learning tackles the issue of large class sizes and wide ranges of academic levels and allows teachers to direct their attention where it is most required.

 

Do personalised learning solutions help improve learning?

While there are many ways to implement personalised learning, technology is a cost-effective way to bring high-quality resources to low-income schools. Zaya’s work with the Hans Foundation in five schools in Uttarakhand revealed some interesting results. In a region without electricity or network connectivity, students used Zaya’s technology-enabled personalised learning program to learn.

A lesson begins with a teacher introducing a topic and conducting group exercises or doing a read-aloud to their class. Students then learn independently by watching videos, reading stories and taking practice and final tests. By using technology that allows content to adapt to the level of the students, they are able to learn at their own pace and master a topic before moving on to the next level.

The graph below shows the learning levels of students from the Government Public School in Sorag (a village in the Pindar Valley region). While students began the program at vastly different levels, they had completed and mastered the same lessons almost equally by the end of the year.

sorag graph

When should you use personalised learning solutions?

Schools should look at personalised learning solutions when classroom sizes are large and difficult to manage or if they have access to a lot of content and the flexibility to allow students to learn at their own pace.

Personalised learning cannot work if there is a strict amount of time allotted for each lesson or a teacher has to move students to the next level immediately after a lesson is complete.

Schools should evaluate their priorities for learning and make space for students to achieve their full potential. Personalised learning is one way of ensuring every child gets the attention they deserve as it is driven by students – who will always learn at different levels.