Although the idea of personalized learning has been around for a long time, the availability of technology has made it more practical for today’s classrooms. But all technology environments aren’t created equal. In some schools, all the students have a laptop or tablet they can take home at night. Other schools have 1:1 programs, but kids can’t take them home. Other schools have BYOD programs, stationary or mobile computer labs, or just a few desktop computers in the classroom. The good news is whether your classroom is hi-tech or minimalist tech, you can still use technology to personalize your students’ learning.

Personalization and Student Choice

But how can teachers in a less comprehensive technology program take advantage of technology’s benefits? Even in a personalized classroom, every activity is not individualized for each student. Students are often all doing the same thing, albeit, sometimes in different ways. Thoughtful classroom management can allow students to share the use of the available technology while still participating in whole-class activities. Technology can also be a big help as a research tool as well as a production tool where students use online tools and apps to learn and to show their learning.


Personalization and Student Ownership

An important strategy for helping students learn to manage their own learning is direct instruction and modeling in skills, such as collaboration, communication, goal setting, and reflection. Technology can play an important role in this aspect of personalized learning with the myriad of productivity tools and apps. Students, in fact, may be more proficient at using these tools to communicate and keep track of their work than their teachers are since their devices are so integrated into their daily lives.

Most productivity apps, like reminders, online calendars, to-to lists, and the like, are available online as well as in mobile apps. Students in a classroom with just a few computers can check in with these tools in just a few seconds. Some apps even allow teachers to use them to monitor students’ progress.

Another way that technology can foster student independence is by providing a concrete, accessible record of what they have done and thought. Setting goals and reflecting on learning are important metacognitive skills, critical for learning. Technology can record both the processes and products of learning, allowing students, and teachers, to reflect on their progress with concrete evidence. This can be a powerful tool for managing their learning.

Whether you take small steps toward personalization by just expanding a few learning activities to offer more choices or whether you focus on helping students take responsibility for their own learning in incremental steps, all students can have experiences that meet their individual needs and goals.

Any tips or tricks for those looking to implement personalized learning with minimal access to technology?