Strategies for Personalisation

Personalised learning has been given great prominence over the past 12 months and is emerging as a real challenge for teachers and senior leadership teams as a key area of school improvement. The National College for School Leadership publication, Leading Personalised Learning in Schools (2005) provides a useful summary:

"Personalised learning offers a means of transforming the learning experience of every child. It will create an education system tailored to the needs, interests and aptitudes of every single pupil. As such, it is a challenge for schools, but it is also a real opportunity to make a positive impact on young people's learning and future."

The former Department of Education and Skills (now the Department for Education) has set out five closely related components:

  • Assessment for learning and the use of evidence and dialogue to identify every pupil's learning needs and the steps they need to take
  • Teaching and learning strategies that actively engage and challenge learners and develop their ability to focus on their learning skills and their capability to take ownership of their own progress
  • Curriculum entitlement and choice that allows for breadth of study, personal relevance and flexible curriculum pathways
  • Creative approaches to school organisation, to enable a student-centred approach which integrates performance with well-being and inclusive approaches with attainment
  • Strong partnerships beyond the classroom, both to enrich learning and support care of pupils in the wider sense through, for example, home-school links, inter-agency work, or community partnerships

The appropriate deployment of ICT resources can contribute to effective action on many of these components. New developments can also help to make this agenda a reality if there is a committed leadership. The examples provided earlier in this section illustrate some possibilities.

For podcasting and other ICT developments to really have an impact there has to exist:

  • a commitment to explore the potential of ICT for the benefit of children and young people
  • access to sufficient, good quality material available within schools, and
  • a willingness to develop alternative teaching and learning approaches.
  • Increasingly, interest in podcasting for educational purposes is growing, particularly in the USA. However, as with any emerging media, careful selection of material is an important criterion, especially as some of the podcasts published on the Internet contain adult content.

Podcasting has the potential to offer the following for personalised learning in schools:

  • creating audio material for learning "on demand", at anytime and anywhere;
  • using differential materials that can be matched to the abilities, needs and motivation of identified children and young people;
  • engaging in curriculum activities grounded in an emerging technology and integral to the worldwide communication revolution;
  • providing curriculum-related teaching and learning in a wide range of contexts and in different locations both within and away from school.
  • As with all technologies, podcasting has the potential for releasing the imagination of children, young people, their teachers and parents/carers.

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