Creating a Shared Vision for Personalized Digital Learning

Do you know the top aspirations and specific needs of students, parents, and educators for 21st century learning environments? The answer may surprise you. In 2012, Project Tomorrow, an educational nonprofit organization, published Mapping a Personalized Learning Journey – K-12 Students and Parents Connect the Dots with Digital Learning. This report examines the Speak Up National Research Project survey results collected from 416,000 K-12 stakeholders (students, parents and educators) in the fall of 2011. 

Over the past nine years, the Speak Up survey has seen growth in the value of digital learning from both student and parent groups while educators’ views haven’t changed. As a result, there is a gap, “between how today’s students want to use technology for learning and how technology is served up to them in school.”  Speak Up 2011 results show how students and parents quickly adapt to technology and 3 ways these devices can support educators as they differentiate their instruction. 

First, personalized digital learning is a key component to increasing student engagement. Second, infusing a wide variety of technology tools throughout the year creates opportunities for students to master 21st century skills required for their future work place success. Finally, common core standards suggest a shift in the traditional classroom paradigm to a digitally-rich, socially-based, student-directed learning environment.

The four key findings for classroom teachers and researchers to consider include:

1. Students are personalizing their learning out of school. Since this generation has grown up with the opportunity to personalize their shopping, entertainment, and banking needs, they are transferring these experiences to their homework. Students are increasing their use of social media tools such as, discussion boards, Facebook, Twitter and Youtube to support their homework. “To simply dismiss student use of these social networking sites as frivolous or even dangerous misses the deeper storyline around the use of social media.”

2. Students and parents support the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) concept to aid in personalizing their learning at school. “Parents from low-income (Title 1) schools (61%) are just as likely to report that they would purchase a mobile device for their child to use for academic reasons as parents in non-Title 1 schools (63%). This is in stark contrast to 65% of principles that said they wouldn't allow the devices into the classroom.

3. Students envision flipping the math and science classrooms by providing online videos and tutorials after school so a conversational framework for thinking and reasoning could be used during class. Findings suggest students’ interest in STEM fields jumps from 20 to 27 percent when technology is used to support both teacher and student-directed learning. 

4. Survey results pinpoint four specific technologies all stakeholders feel are essential. They include: Internet access at school, e-textbooks, tablets provided by the school, and online classes. These shared views provide a starting point for discussion and strategic planning to create a vision of digitalized learning. 

Begin your own personalized learning journey by clicking the link to the infographic of the Speak Up survey.