Richer Picture Founder and President David Niguidula says, “Digital portfolios are a nudge in the direction of personalization.” Why should schools work toward providing personalized experiences for students?
A 7th-grade student quoted in the book Learning Personalized, the Evolution of the Contemporary Classroom states, “I’m constantly going through the motions down a path that has been chosen for me by others. When is it gonna be my turn?” Typically, schools have focused on what adults want to teach, believing that students should have limited choice in their daily learning activities.
Yet, if educators follow the pedagogy of personalization, students can meet the same educational outcomes we support while engaged in authentic and meaningful learning pursuits.
To some, personalization is instruction solely by a computer, as in B.F. Skinner’s teaching machines essentially replacing human instruction. Or, one could cite John Dewey’s progressive education perspective, where personalization means project-based learning utilizing “change the world” assessments where students solve real-world problems in the context of learning.
The advantage of digital portfolios is their inherent flexibility to meet the personalization needs of every student:
- Students can earn digital badges in various instructional areas, including those selected by the student.
- Reflection and choice are inherent qualities of digital portfolios. Students can include artifacts of their own choosing to demonstrate evidence of proficiency. At the same time, students reflect on why they chose that artifact.
- Teachers have a full view of the student’s digital portfolios and can quickly provide feedback and direction.
As David describes in an upcoming podcast, digital portfolios particularly support the educational personalization of those students “in the middle.” These kids may not acquire the accolades that popular athletes or the highest-achieving students receive, and they also don’t qualify for the attention our struggling learners rightly demand.
But, the “middle children” may need to be heard and supported in their passions – digital portfolios can be the personalization answer for them.
As Zmuda, Curtis, and Ullman say in their book Learning Personalized “personalized learning is a better way to grow children. We don’t teach subjects – we teach children and young adults. Personalized learning is the best way we know to grow these people into the best versions of themselves with all the skills and mindsets needed to succeed and contribute to our shared future.”
Thus, why must we “nudge” our instructional practice toward the pedagogy of personalization?
We have powerful tech tools at our disposal, and thanks to remote learning, a faculty and student body unintentionally experienced using technology to promote understanding. It’s time to use that leverage to empower all of our students to gain the knowledge and skills to change their world for the better.