Personalized learning is in high demand as schools navigate the uncertainties of a pandemic. While web-based, adaptive tools allow us to individualize learning for students, we can’t forget the need to humanize models for personalization and center students in our instruction.
In a webinar on March 3rd, Paul Emerich France elaborated on four pillars of the Humanized Personalization Equity Framework, and teachers left with tangible steps they could implement the next day to humanize personalization in their classrooms.
Paul emphasized the importance of exploring identity, not just as a beginning of the year “get-to-know-you” activity. Revisit the topic of identity throughout the year because “when students know and see one another, we create cultures of belonging which are critical to equity work.”
While learner agency is key to the success of personalized learning, he cautioned that it’s not a “free-for-all.” Teachers should focus on actions and activities that cultivate agency, like validating students’ journeys and promoting student self-evaluation.
Using a simple structure focusing on celebrations, challenges, and next steps, teachers can use qualitative assessments to get an understanding of the whole picture of a students’ learning journey. Though these assessments are qualitative, Paul emphasized that they should still be standards-aligned.
Paul touted the workshop model’s opportunities for both convergence and divergence as a prime learning model to incorporate all three dimensions. Convergence allows for interpersonal connection, he said, while “divergence allows for both learner- and teacher-driven personalization.”
“Personalized learning can happen in the whole group with the right techniques.”
“Small groups and partnerships allow for building a collective consciousness in smaller, more intimate settings.”
“Individualization can occur in the classroom, just not necessarily in the way you might think.”
Complex instruction is composed of three elements: multiple-ability curriculum, human-centered instructional strategies, and culturally aware pedagogy. Paul showed an example of an open-ended math activity and provided a downloadable resource to plan for a similarly complex activity.
In order to practice EdTech Minimalism, Paul suggested asking yourself these four questions when planning to incorporate technology into instruction:
Reflecting on these answers helps us to see the difference between humanized and dehumanized personalization. Humanized personalization is powered by humans, while dehumanized personalization is powered by technology. Humanized personalization connects learners, while dehumanized personalization isolates them. By working toward always centering students in instruction, we are on the path toward humanizing personalized learning.