Personalized Learning

New Report on Personalized Learning Recommends Use of 'Learner Positioning Systems'

Achieving personalized learning in schools takes good technology programs, suggested a new report from Digital Promise. But it also takes something else: "learner positioning systems." These "LPSs" are akin to a GPS, except instead of telling people where they are geographically, they'd be used to help students and their teachers get a grounding in where the students are in their learning journey. That information might cover "a map of learning topics and progressions [and] a bank of programs and resources tied to the learning map."

The use of the LPS, stated "Making Learning Personal for All: The Growing Diversity in Today's Classroom," would help the student "self-identify" his or her strengths, preferences and challenges, set learning goals and find the appropriate resources to help meet those goals.

The need for personalized learning is growing as a result of the increasing diversity of the student population in the United States, the report stated. For example, whereas a classroom of 24 kids in the 1970s may have had five or six students requiring specialized interventions due to poverty, language skills or disabilities, now the demographics suggest that the count has risen to between 10 and 12 students — "each of whom research shows needs personalized approaches to learning."

Technology-enabled instruction has stepped into the education community as a way to deliver "more precise personalized learning," the report explained, particularly in two specific content areas: reading and math.

However, more work needs to be done to make that instruction more effective and "personal." Educators  need to know "how to use technology to engage, motivate and personalize learning with their students." Software developers and designers need to "create tools that are more precisely and intentionally tuned" for individual learners. Researchers need to "evolve new methodologies that embrace the diversity of learners for testing the effectiveness of products, programs and interventions that personalize learning." And the students need to understand "their personal learning characteristics."

The report is the first in a new series from the education-focused not-for-profit that explores the impact of "learning variability" in student performance.

The report is freely available on Digital Promise's website.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.