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Connecting PBL to Personalized Learning

Connecting PBL to Personalized Learning

Author: Katie Hou

In this lesson, you will connect the components of PBL relates to the five design principles of personalized learning.

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Hello, and thank you for joining me for connecting PBL to personalized learning. Today we will answer the following essential question-- how is PBL connected to personalized learning?

First, let's review what personalized learning is. In 2010, the US Department of Education defined it in its Learning Powered by Technology Plan as an alternative to the one-size-fits-all model of teaching. They also said personalization refers to instruction that is paced to learning needs, tailored to learning preferences, and tailored to the specific interests of different learners. In an environment that is fully personalized, the learning objectives and content, as well as the method and pace, may all vary.

In addition to this definition, there are five essential elements of personalized learning. This begins with flexibility. This essentially means that learning can occur at any time, and that it is occurring everywhere.

The second is that there is an expanded and redefined teacher role, what this means is that teachers are not fulfilling the traditional or old-fashioned job description of teacher. You're still the expert, but sometimes in personalized learning, you're going to be meeting with students one-on-one more than lecturing to a group.

It's also project-based. What this means is the students are working on projects that might be differentiated based on what their different multiple intelligences are. And these projects are authentic, real life applications of the material.

It's also a student-driven learning path. They might have a set of standards that they have to achieve by the end of a unit or by the end of the year, but they're working towards those standards at their own pace.

And it's also a mastery or competency-based progression plan or pace in the classroom. So students are able to master one area or show competency in one area before moving onto the next. And their progression is based on that. Because ideally, the different concepts would build on one another.

So why should we use personalized learning? Well, there's six common reasons why schools are doing it. And the first one is that it increases engagement of the students, especially when they're able to pace their own learning and they're able to personalize it to themselves. Additionally, students are going to be more engaged when it's an authentic application of the content.

This leads us to authentic problem solving. With project-based learning, a lot of them are going to be based on problems that the teacher presents to the students or that they generate themselves. So it's not problem solving in terms of a classroom setting. It's problem solving in terms of doing field research, in terms of presenting something to a set of stakeholders. It's authentic.

It's also empowering for the students because they're able to make the decisions about their own learning. Yes, we're going to decide what standards or content we want you to cover. But you are going to make the decisions on the pace and how you show mastery.

Which leads us to they are able to master content at their own pace. Again, this reinforces empowerment.

Schools also like to use personalized learning because of its use of technology. So we're moving beyond the teacher being the only source of education and the only source of content or knowledge in the classroom. And we're using technology to supplement what the teacher has to offer. And this also leads to 21st century skills, which include things like creativity, communication, collaboration, and more.

So let's talk for a minute about personalization versus differentiation because they're not the same things. So with personalization, the students have different goals. So they might all be working to meet the same standard, but they're working on at a different pace. Which means at any given time, the student has a different goal. With differentiation, the students are all working on the same goal. They're just doing it in different ways.

This leads us to pace, which already kind of talked about. In a personalized classroom, the students are all working at different paces. Whereas in a differentiated classroom, they're all working at the same pace, even though they're doing it in different ways.

So how does this connect to PBL? PBL is essentially connected to four of the five design principles of personalized learning. Specifically, PBL is connected to the flexible learning environment, where the students are able to work at their own paces. It's anytime and everywhere learning.

PBL is also connected to an expanded or redefined teacher role, which remember means that the teacher is not necessarily standing in front of the room lecturing, but is touching base with students on a one-tn-one or small group basis. And also, the teacher is not the only source of knowledge, but is a great resource to find out where the knowledge can be sought. Which leads us back to the technology aspect and using outside sources to expand our knowledge.

PBL is also related to the authentic standard of personalized learning, meaning that the projects are authentic and real world-based. And PBL is connected to the student-driven aspect of personalized learning because the students are able to create their own learning path based on their needs and their abilities, as well as their pace.

Let's reflect for a moment. What value do you see in personalized learning? And would you use this in your own classroom? What, if any, of the five essential elements are you currently implementing?

So to review, today we discussed how PBL is connected to personalized learning. Now it's your turn to apply what you've learned in this video. The Additional Resources section will be super helpful. This section is designed to help you discover useful ways to apply what you've learned here. Each link includes a brief description so you can easily target the resource you want. Thank you for joining me today, and happy teaching.

Notes on “Connecting PBL to Personalized Learning”


(00:00-00:10) Introduction

(00:11-00:47) Personalized Learning

(00:48-02:07) The Five Essential Elements

(02:08-03:31) Why use Personalized Learning ?  

(03:32-04:09) Personalized Learning vs. Differentiation

(04:10-05:13) PBL and Personalized Learning

(05:14-05:33) Reflection

(05:34-06:00) Conclusion

Additional Resources

Mean What You Say: Defining and Integrating Personalized, Blended and Competency Education

This is a comprehensive overview of personalized learning, blended learning, and competency based education. This report breaks down personalized learning into three categories and explains how to accomplish each in your setting: personalized learning, personalized learning in the blended learning environment, and personalization support by competencies. In addition, there is a helpful section called "How Standards Fit into Personalized, Blended
and Competency Education."

Next Generation Learning Challenges: Summit Public Schools

Next Generation Learning Challenges is a grant funded by the Gates Foundation to incorporate problem based and project based learning into personalized learning; Summit Denali is one of the schools that received the grant. The Summit Denali school day is designed around the four elements of college and career readiness. The Summit student experience includes: Personalized Learning Time, Project Time, Mentor Time, Summit Reads, and Community Time. The structures of Summit can be studied by educators in order to implement personalized learning within their organization using some or all of the strategies used by Summit.