Thursday, October 13, 2011

Ed Tech Panel Discusses Personalized Learning and Valid Assessment

eSchool News recently reported on a panel discussion called “Educational Technology: Revolutionizing Personalized Learning and Student Assessment,” held at the Brookings Institution, a non-profit public policy organization. Educators and policy makers on the panel weighed in on what technologies will benefit students in education and what changes need to be implemented in education systems in order for the technologies to have the impact students need.

A major theme in the discussion was personalization and how technology can meet each students’ individual learning needs. Darrell West, a Brookings Institution senior fellow and the panel moderator, said, “Technology has the potential to improve education by personalizing learning, enabling different forms of student assessment, and making class time more flexible.” Chip Hughes, executive vice president of school services for online-learning provider K12 Inc., said that technology personalizes learning when it allows students to work at their own pace. “Students working at their own pace … aren’t bound by the circumstances of all the other students in the room,” he said.

A vital part of tech in education is assessment methods that allow teachers to understand what students are and are not mastering so that teachers can intervene when needed. Hughes also pointed out that virtual learning levels removes social barriers to learning. For example, an older student who has fallen behind doesn’t feel embarrassed to work with younger students when the instruction is virtual; likewise, younger students aren’t intimidated by older students. With technology in education, “we aren’t only thinking about the academic piece of it, but the non-academic barriers that might be in their way,” Hughes said.

Joanne Weiss, chief of staff to U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, stated that “technology-enabled learning and teaching is the way we’re going to figure out how to teach kids what they need to know and how to be successful in the future.”

The topics of personalization and valid assessments are certainly two of the greatest strengths that TestOut’s LabSim IT courseware offers educators and students. Students work individually in LabSim at their own pace—at school or at home—and can review whatever material they need at any time. Teachers have access to a dashboard with data of students’ time spent with each LabSim component and scores achieved. Teachers tell us they love knowing exactly where students need additional instruction and being able to give on-on-one help to meet a student’s individual needs while the rest of the class continues working.

What technologies do you use in your classroom to personalize learning and validate assessment?

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