Customized Learning Starts with Less Educator Talk, More Learner Voice

Customized learning is becoming a huge part of the 21st-century classroom. It’s an approach to teaching and learning that involves less educator talking and more input from learners, and it’s changing the way learners are learning around the world.

The idea behind customized learning is simple. Learners guide their own learning, going at their own pace and, in some cases, making their own decisions about what to learn. Ideally, in a classroom using customized learning, learners choose what they’re interested in, and educators fit the curriculum and standards to the learners’ interests.

This type of learning reverses the contemporary structure of the classroom. Instead of the educator being the center of attention and leader of the classroom, the learners are in the spotlight. Customized learning gives learners a voice and allows them to take ownership of their education.

For educators who want to bring more customized learning into their own classrooms, it can seem intimidating. Giving up some control of the classroom can be scary. Educators might wonder, will the learners really get engaged? Will they learn what they need to know for the tests at the end of the year? Will I lose control over my classroom?

Customized learning doesn’t have to be all-or-nothing. Educators can start by talking a little less and letting learners have more of a voice. Allowing learners to make some choices in the classroom can have a powerful effect.

Educators can give learners different options for presenting evidence of what they’ve learned. You can accomplish this by directly giving learners the standards they need to know and asking them to prove that they’ve mastered the standard. Another option is to give learners choices, such as writing an essay versus creating a visual representation of their learning.

Educators can take another route and give learners different options for how they learn the material. This requires a little more preparation, but educators can allow learners to choose between reading and watching a video, for example. Again, this gives learners more choices, and subsequently they feel that they have a voice in the classroom.

Simple changes like these are easy for educators to make, and they empower learners. When learners have just a little bit of choice in the classroom, they become invested in their learning.

Customized learning also improves learner and educator relationships. In the traditional classroom, educators are often fighting for power. In traditional classrooms, educators demand that learners sit down, stop talking, and look at the educator. This automatically creates a kind of power dynamic that can cause problems. Educators are essentially telling learners, “I am more important than you.”

When educators give learners a voice, they’re telling learners, “You are important.” They are giving learners control over what and how they learn. Learners often respond positively to this change in the power dynamic. Learners who are given choices feel respected. They are less likely to cause problems for educators. When educators stop demanding that learners sit down, be quiet, and respect them, learners are likely to do all three of those things.

For educators looking for a way to get learners engaged and excited about what they’re learning, customized learning is the way to go. Educators who talk less and give learners a voice in the classroom empower learners and take ownership of their education.

Have you seen educators talking less in the classroom? How can educators use the power of customized learning to give learners a voice? Tell us what you think.

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