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Personalized Learning: Where does engagement fit into the equation?

Wednesday, February 22, 2017 -- Madison Michell

For those that have been met with disinterested and disengaged students during implementation of a new online solution, you realize the power of purposeful engagement features. And, we’re not just talking about games and avatar selection—at Edmentum, we know that engagement goes deeper than that. As personalized learning continues to grow in popularity, we wanted to take a closer look at how engagement can help drive this approach in meaningful ways.

As you think about defining personalized learning, your mind may immediately jump to the pace at which content is delivered, beginning at each student’s instructional level. Or, perhaps you think of personalized learning as applying differentiated strategies to ensure each student’s learning style is taken into account. Guess what—both answers are right! At a high level, a personalized approach involves giving students choice in how, when, and at what pace they learn. Still feeling fuzzy on the details of personalized learning amid the many education buzzwords? Take a quick peek at this blog where we’ve defined individualized, differentiated, and personalized learning before reading on.  

Today, instead of defining anything, we want to focus on digging deeper into where engagement fits in the personalized learning equation. Here are three ways engagement features are connected to the larger goals of personalized learning and why they matter when you’re choosing an edtech solution.

Tie performance stats to a larger goal

Students don’t want to look at data via spreadsheets and reports; they want to see their performance in ways that really resonate. One way to do that is by making numbers meaningful. What does that look like? For students, goal setting tools are key. While younger learners may not necessarily be mature enough to understand the meaning of their scores across each 3rd grade reading skill, they can get behind a goal displayed in their online learning program to master five new skills within that grading period. As each personalized goal is developed and tracked, students begin to adopt and internalize a growth mindset, verbalizing what they are trying to achieve and understanding what it takes to get there.

Ready to get started with personalized learning? Download our Guide to Create Personalized Learning Plans for Every Student!

Reward all forms of learning in personal ways

Many digital learning programs include some sort of built-in currency. Whether points, coins, gems, or anything else you can think of, this virtual money is a powerful engagement tool. And, while some educators fear instances of students spending precious classroom time cashing in their earnings, a well-designed system should mitigate this problem. At Edmentum, we start by asking the question, what actions should be encouraged and therefore tied to in-program rewards? After all, that’s where the value lies.

We recognize that each student’s learning journey is different, and therefore motivation needs to be applied in various stages of learning. For example, for the student that is slow to attain mastery, but continues to work through each instruction and practice session until they get it—they should be rewarded for their grit and tenacity. And, for the student that powers through content and masters skills independently, their milestones should also be recognized. The metric for merit is not singular. Each individual learner requires coaching and encouragement at their own level, and we proudly embed that mantra into our engagement functionality.

Beyond the bells and whistles, what about the content?

At the core of any learning program is the curriculum itself. Arguably, this is where students are spending the majority of their time, and it is most definitely where the magic happens. It’s where letters and sounds are made into words and where math facts gain real-world context. So, how much time and effort is spent ensuring engagement is made a priority? At Edmentum, we stand behind our high-quality content. And, while we quantify its worth according to instructional design and rigor, we also put significant emphasis on engagement.

Our commitment to engaging content involves using friendly animation and storytelling to break down complicated concepts into familiar, easy-to-digest topics. It also involves incorporating explicit directions, short scaffolded instruction, and meaningful time for practice with immediate student feedback. When students are exposed to high-quality, engaging content, they are empowered with the necessary tools to make real learning gains.

Want to learn more about how Edmentum is personalizing learning? Explore our brand new Individualized Learning Solution for K-6 students in math, reading, and language arts.