3 Ways Communities Can Help Schools Personalize Learning

Solutions for Rural Schools

Schools across the country are looking to implement personalized learning programs into their instructional environments. For rural schools, personalized learning is especially crucial — it has the capacity to make up for limited staff and resources by efficiently providing each student with a learning experience tailored to their needs. But implementing personalized learning in a rural district comes with a host of challenges — such as a lack of resources, geographical limitations, and internet access. To overcome these challenges, we would encourage rural schools to examine their strengths: particularly their ties to community. Rural schools are often deeply tied to their surrounding communities — in work and economy, culture, family, and communal relationships. As in turns out, those connections could be the key to effectively implementing a personalized learning system.

Future Ready Schools® (FRS)

Here are three ways rural districts can use community connections to improve outcomes and make learning more personal:

Local Partnerships

For many rural districts, internet access — or even device access —away from school is a huge barrier to learning beyond the classroom. Consider forging partnerships with local businesses and organizations to increase internet access for students. For example, invite coffee shops and fast food restaurants to offer wi-fi to students. Also be sure to have a strong connection with local libraries that might have a selection of devices, and ensure that your students are aware of the many learning spaces available to them beyond school walls.

Conversations with Stakeholders

While it’s important to maintain ownership of changes in your school, it can be beneficial to open the conversation to stakeholders outside school walls. Parents and community members can be partners in personalized learning implementation by ensuring that children have positive and purposeful experiences outside the classroom. They can also offer creative solutions that school administrators may not have otherwise considered — in short, it’s about seeking alternative perspectives. However, districts should be careful to be clear and direct about their goals for personalized learning, and be ready to face potential concerns or resistance when opening these conversations up to others.

Relevant Learning Experiences

We’ve mentioned before that one of the best ways to engage students in rural districts is to make learning relevant to their local economy, since many of them might plan on entering their community workforce after they graduate. Consider further personalizing students’ learning experiences by tapping into local partnerships for on-the-job apprenticeships, observations, or internships. By forging a connection between students and the local businesses or industries they’re interested in joining after formal education, you will give students a jumpstart on college and career readiness, and forge important connections between future graduates and community leaders.

Future Ready Schools

The first step rural districts should take in their journey with personalized learning is to take the Future Ready Pledge. Future Ready Schools® (FRS) is a planning and resource hub for personalized, digital learning that helps district leaders effectively plan and implement research-based digital learning strategies. Consider attending a Future Ready planning event or download the new Future Ready guidebook, designed specifically for rural schools: