Monday, March 4, 2013

Using Schoology and Khan Academy for individualized instruction

Education is shifting towards individualized, personalized learning for every student.  Students currently in a special education program have their own Individual Education Plan (IEP) or Individual Learning Plan (ILP).  What educators realize is that every student is different and every student would benefit from their own learning plan.  Technology is going to play a major role in creating these individual plans and also in helping our students meet their goals.

Our students - all students - are different from each other.  They have different attitudes, different motivation, different abilities, and different learning styles.  Educators are finding that all students would benefit from lessons and materials that most closely match these differences.

Technology is going to help educators provide an individualized learning environment in two ways.  First, it will provide the backbone for delivering the content and lessons.  Second, it will provide the educational resources needed to meet our students' needs.

Schoology is the delivery system for individualized learning to your students.  It is the backbone of your school.  Schoology is a Learning Management System (LMS) that allows teachers to provide videos, articles, texts, websites, online quizzes, discussion boards , flipped lessons, and review materials to their students in an organized manner.  Schoology also allows teachers, students, and parents to communicate electronically about their teaching and learning.  Schoology provides teachers with the ability to provide differentiated learning materials that meet a variety of learning styles and learning abilities to all students, and it can even let students work at their own pace by opening new sections once a student completes the previous section. Harlem Academy in New York chose Schoology as their LMS, their web site, and their intranet all in one.  It truly is the hub of the school where everything a student needs can easily be found.

Once the backbone is in place, teachers need to provide high-quality resources that are aimed at different age groups, that meet different learning levels, and meet different learning styles.  Open Educational Resources (OERs) are free resources "documents and media that are useful for teaching, learning, education, assessment and research purposes." There are many individuals and organizations who believe that everyone deserves a high-quality education at little to no cost, and OERs are a way for the whole world to benefit from well-written educational materials.  OER Commons states, "equitable access to high-quality education is a global imperative."

One OER that is making big headlines is Khan Academy.  Salman Kahn began creating video lessons and practice problems on a variety of subjects.  His mission is "to provide a free, world-class education to anyone, anywhere."  A pilot program was announced last week for 47 schools in Idaho that will receive a total of $1.5 million to provide teachers with the two days of proper training in using Khan Academy with their students as well as a study to measure the effect it has on student achievement.  This study on the blended learning environment - direct instruction from a teacher coupled with self-guided video instruction from Khan Academy - is being funded by the J.A. and Katheryn Albertson Foundation.

In some instances the teacher will try to "fill the gaps" in a student's learning, but often it will be the student himself who recognizes what he knows and what he does not know and then utilizes the resources provided by the teacher to fill the gaps himself.  Whether a student is trying to catch up, trying to fill in holes, or trying to get ahead, a student will often take that initiative on his own - but the teacher needs to provide the appropriate materials to make that happen.

What is more important, the content used to learn or the way that it is delivered?  That's a subject for an entirely different article.

1 comment:

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