Personalised learning for teachers
Today, there are a multitude of choices for technology tools, online content and digital infrastructures that can be deployed in education. The experience of educational leaders may be an important factor in determining how digital technologies can be used for learning. The latest report from Project Tomorrow of the Speak Up surveys has focussed on the use of digital technologies by educational leaders. The Speak Up report Personalizing the Classroom Experience – Teachers, Librarians and Administrators Connect the Dots with Digital Learning: Speak Up 2011 National Findings K-12 Educators suggests that there are links between teachers’ visions and students’ visions for using digital technologies in education.
DERN has reported on the results of the Speak Up surveys in the past under the following headings: Personalising learning, Take up and predictions and Educational vision. Throughout these unique surveys that focus on the voices of students, is the consistent theme of personalised learning which can be more effective and efficient than ever before using digital technologies. However, change in schools to find effective methods for using digital technologies for personalised learning is dependent on educational leaders. Speak Up reports that, ‘increasingly, educators are tapping into the same technology tools as students for their professional tasks’ (p. 2). Teachers, Principals and District Administrators are using digital technology to: ‘Participate in webinars Create multi media presentations Participate in online professional learning communities, Create and upload videos, music and photos Read and/or post to blogs and wikis Update a social networking site, and Use Twitter to communicate or follow others’ (p. 2).
The suggestion is made in the report that teachers who use digital technologies value its use in the classroom more so. Speak Up argues that ‘the emergence of the tablet computer within the past two years has dramatically changed the landscape of educational mobility’ (p.3) and so they surveyed access to cell phones, smartphones, digital readers and tablets. They suggest that the use of these devices establishes foundational experiences for educators so that teachers can explore personalised learning. Speak Up introduces three different kinds of educators who use digital technologies and reports on each: mobilists, online learners and digital content producers. Mobilists view students’ bringing their own devices to school as most important; online learners value online learning, remediation and differentiated instruction highly; and digital content producers are ‘increasingly looking to digital content and e-textbooks … [to] … reduce dependence on publishers and … decrease costs’ (p.7).
Another group of specialist teachers, teacher librarians, use established criteria for evaluating digital content and recommending it to teachers (p. 8). However, the strongest finding in the Personalizing the Classroom Experience report is the link between the online learning environment visions of both teachers for professional learning and students for learning. They both wish to use technology that is ‘socially-based, un-tethered and digitally rich’ (p. 9). The report makes clear that teachers’ increased use of digital technologies through mobile devices, social media and digital content affords them new opportunities from their experiences for exploring how to best utilise technology in the classroom.
Gerry White is Principal Research Fellow: Teaching & Learning using Digital Technologies, Australian Council for Educational Research
This article was first published on the Digital Education Research Network (DERN)
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