How to Use Technology to Personalize Learning
Exploring Personalization in the Context of the Classroom
Teachers have been personalizing student learning experiences for a long time, through creativity, hard work, and meaningful relationships— but with the introduction of technology to the classroom, we have the opportunity to take that personalization to new heights. Using technology to personalize learning is largely intuitive for many educators, but there are certain factors of the interaction between teacher, student, and tech that can make or break the effectiveness of the instruction, and the ultimate impact for the student.
Here are some of the most foundational strategies for using technology to efficiently and meaningfully personalize learning in your classroom:
Keep Instruction Student-Centered
If you’re using technology with the intention of personalizing learning but your instruction is overwhelmingly driven by the technology — or even by the teacher — then your instruction isn’t as personalized as it could be. The hallmark of personalized learning is that it involves collaboration between student and teacher to determine the needs, plan, and design for learning. Technology should facilitate and actualize that collaboration, not dictate or determine its outcome.
For more on keeping personalized learning student-centered, see:
Personalized Learning: A Student-Centered Approach for Learning Success
Janet Pittock, Curriculum Director, and Cassondra Corbin-Thaddies, Director of Professional Learning
Use Technology with Purpose
We can understand technology to be purposeful when it informs instruction, gives the teacher insights into student learning gaps or pathways, and adapts to individual learning needs. Any technology you bring into your classroom should be inherently purposeful — and technology that’s integrated into your design for teaching and learning should also be done so purposefully. This means that it’s important to be mindful of both the quality of the technology you select, and its role in your larger strategy to collaborate with students to personalize learning.
Personalized learning gurus Tom Vander Ark, Tiffany Wycoff, and Janet Pittock offer up more details on the complexities between student, teacher, and technology:
Take it to Scale
As technology becomes a core component of the personalized learning strategy across classrooms, grade levels, and buildings in your district, it’s important to consider how students can experience a cohesive, carefully designed strategy for learning throughout their educational career, all the way from kindergarten to graduation. Strategic planning and tech implementation at such a large scale is complex. The Future Ready Schools five-step process for creating a personalized learning action plan can provide both a framework and community for you to begin personalizing learning for every student in your district, no matter your challenges.
Future Ready Schools has multiple avenues and tools to help you use technology to personalize learning. See below for more information:
Future Ready Schools - Preparing Students for Success
A movement of thousands of district leaders who are accelerating the transformation of schools through the effective…
Design for Every Learner
Effectively using technology to personalize learning also calls for equitable instruction — which means not only that every student has access to robust resources and tools, but that they have access to what they need in a specific moment in their learning experience, despite race, gender, ethnicity, language, disability, family background, or family income (The Council of Chief State School Officers). Through the lens of equity, it’s important to consider multiple facets of a student’s experience with their surroundings when using any technology or instructional methods to personalize learning. Students may need to be explicitly taught how to use technology for the purpose of learning, and learning can’t be truly personalized without culturally responsive teaching practices and teacher awareness of student well-being.
To further explore the challenges of digital equity, read:
How to Drive a Successful Digital Transformation in Urban Districts
It's generally understood that integrating edtech into schools can be complex, but what's less often discussed is that…
For more on using technology to personalize learning, explore our blog, Inspired Ideas: