A Brave New World

“Personalized learning” is one component of distance learning that adds a diversity of learning experiences, strategic academic support, and different instructional approaches that are designed to cater more to the barrage of needs for students within a community. Due to these many attributes, personalized learning is vital to the success of online learning and many scholars, educators, and policymakers have high hopes in this aspect of learning to continue to challenge the traditional brick and mortar classroom model and grow. The versatility of this innovation is its ability to stand alone or collaborate with blended learning as the future for educating students to reach their full potential through various learning styles and approaches. The term “personalized learning” can be interpreted in different ways. The term online learning is used interchangeably with other epithets such as cyber learning, distance education, learning and virtual learning (Corry, M., Bancroft, A.C., 2010).

One article that touches on the subject of personalized learning and it’s different epithets is Pilot Program of Online Learning in Three Small High Schools: Considerations of Learning Styles by Abigail Garthwait. The reason I chose this particular article is because it speaks about personalized learning should cater to the community and students it tends to educate. This article is a qualitative case study that  was conducted in three different schools based in Maine to research the implementation of online learning in a small educational system. The research spanned over one academic semester and the researcher focused not only on the progression and sustainability of online learning in a small rural educational system, but to also focus on the a student’s support system (Garthwait, 2014). This data was collected using observational interviews, learning style questionnaires and semi-structured bi-semester interviews using 10 students.

The data was grouped into two sections, one based on substantiated prior research and the other based on contradictory conclusions. The population of students who signed up for this research online or were referred as beneficial for distance learning, is part of a low population density state of Maine. The population exist from a median income household of $36,745.00. The ethnicity breakdown is 94.6% white, 2.3% black, 1.4% asian, .76% native american, and 1% hispanic (Garthwait, 2014). Even though each school used a different setup the commonality for the data was the same. The common categories studied for measuring the students progression were the responsible educator, physical space, scheduled time, and other support systems. Other variables were considered such as, prior computer skills, home access to computers, students learning styles, students expectation of online learning, and organizational skills. All these factors can determine the success of online learning for any school or community.

After research and data collection, the information was as expected. Each school discovered different conclusions and using a qualitative research limits any overall findings that is conducive for a larger percentage. However, this does allow educators to see how and where improvement can happen and it also welcomes the idea of distance learning as a new prominence in education and where it should transform for the 21st century. This article also confirmed my thinking regarding distance learning in all it’s capacity. Online learning has allowed classrooms to open up education to the realm many of our forefathers envisioned it to be. Classrooms that meet the unlimited possibilities that education does to the hungry minds of those who want to learn. Distance learning also creates a new way to address critical thinking and cognitive skills for a generation that has lost the necessity to enhance these skills based on their lack of cyber discipline.

References:

Corry, M., Bancroft, A.C., (2010): Transforming and Turning Around Low-Performing Schools: The Role of Online Learning. Turnaround Schools of Online Learning, pp. 1-31. Journal of Educators Online. An Open Access Journal.

Garthwit, A., (2014): Pilot Program of Online Learning in Three Small High Schools: Considerations of Learning Styles. The Electronic Journal of e-Learning Volume 12 Issue 4 2014, (pp353-365)

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