I was lucky enough to attend the “Julie and Julie” session at BbWorld 2012! Julie Evans, CEO of Project Tomorrow, and Julie Young, President & CEO of Florida Virtual School shared their thoughts on Personalized Learning. Both agree that students are looking for ways to use technology in order to make learning more relevant and successful according to their own individual needs, goals, and preferences. And, both mention that children are using mobile phones, social networks, and the internet with such increasing frequency that it is becoming a must for schools to incorporate these tools into a student’s learning, instead of shutting them down.
Can you guess what student profile this describes?
In my life, I ……..
Play games on handheld devices (57%)
Take tests online for school (40%)
Have a cell phone or smartphone (40%)
Read books on my mobile device (53%)
Want more internet access at school (50%)
and want to take an online class (40%)
According to the National Speak Up survey, these are the responses of 3rd grade girls living in a rural location. These are not high schoolers, and these are not students in wealthy suburbs. With the incredible growth in smartphone sales, access is becoming less of a concern and young children are becoming more tech savvy.
In addition to the engaging and familiar aspects of using technology as part of learning, controlling the pace of absorbing new content is another key benefit of a personalized learning experience. Julie Evans stated that 52% of students in Grade 6-8 responded that controlling the pace of learning was a benefit of an online course. In fact, it was the #1 benefit from this age group. Julie Young agreed that for some of her students, being able to spend more time on a course is critical – some students just need longer to absorb concepts, some travel for sports 2 weeks of the year, some hold jobs to support their families, and others are dealing with long-term sickness. Julie Young admits that sometimes having students at different parts of a course is a challenge for teachers, but it is not one she is willing to compromise on. She believes we owe it to our students to give them the time they need to successfully tackle learning.
And for further information, the latest online learning trends report from Blackboard and Project Tomorrow, “ A Five Year Retrospective on the Growth in Online Learning,” documents the significant changes over the past five years in the growth of the interest and experience levels in online learning. The report shines a bright light on the impact of this evolutionary process on new programs, policies and plans for expanding online learning opportunities for students and teachers.