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Personalized Learning Plans: Tailoring Education to Each Student’s Needs

In addition to the massive growth of online schooling options, another significant change in Dubai, the UAE, and across the GCC Region,  is the growth of personalized learning plans. Personalized learning foregoes the ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach many traditional schools have used for years. And in many instances, it can provide students with a much better learning environment. This article focuses on information about personalized learning plans, the benefits of this model, and how to implement them in an online learning platform.

What are personalized learning plans?

Traditional schools in the Middle East, regardless of curriculum, have only ever offered one learning model for all students, no matter their differences. If students failed to thrive, they could be held back for another year or offered learning support classes, which was the favored option for students with a learning disability.

By contrast, personalized student learning plans recognize that students often learn in different ways and paces. Therefore, it embraces the uniqueness of each student and offers a learning plan that focuses on how they learn, what they know, and how they best stay engaged with the material.

Teachers work directly with students to create long-term and short-term learning goals, then develop a personalized learning plan supporting student success. These plans do not replace special education options; they can work for students with an Individualized Education Program (IEP).  Sunshine Learning Difficulties partners with La Senda Global Academy to support offer IEP and LSA support to students.

The key to personalized learning is that it puts students and their needs at the center of the schooling, and then allows them to make choices about their learning experience that support continued and effective learning.

The Benefits of Personalized Learning Plans

Personalized learning plans can offer many benefits that traditional education models cannot, such as:

Students with personalized learning plans can improve their knowledge and test scores

For example, the Gates Foundation has found that personalized learning for math substantially improved students’ test scores. In the US, the average scores of those participating in the study went from below the national average to exceeding the national average. These results tend to be widespread across many schools that offer learning plans to meet student needs, with two-thirds of all schools in the study experiencing statistically positive results with personalized student learning plans.

Students can focus on their weak areas without any stigma

When students don’t understand the material in the same capacity as their peers, they may feel inadequate, resulting in a loss of motivation for learning. Personalized learning plans can focus on their weak areas without worrying about what others think. Moreover, they can do it without fear that they will need special education, which can lead to bullying in many schools.

Teachers can focus their efforts

Personalized learning plans don’t just benefit students; they can tremendously help teachers. Teachers can focus on tasks or activities that make the most impact – and this can be a huge benefit since the teachers often directly see the rewards of leveraging the students’ strengths and focusing on their weak areas. In addition, as students begin to perform better academically, it can be a strong motivator for continued academic success.

Students can focus on content that helps their future goals

Many students receive a standard academic experience until they reach college if they choose to attend. However, personalized learning plans can help students achieve goals within academia that may support their future personal or career goals. In addition, it can be easy for students who already know their interests to create a learning plan that focuses on those interests, giving them a leg up over their peers after schooling ends.

Parents can play a more significant role in shaping their child’s academic future

With traditional school options, parental input is limited. However, personalized student learning plans often rely on parents to foster a continuous learning experience beyond the formal school hours. Therefore, parents can play a more prominent role in helping to shape their child’s education and foster a more effective learning environment.

Implementing Personalized Learning on Virtual Platforms

At the same time many educators are realizing the value of personalized learning plans, there has been an explosion in the popularity of online education. Combining these two new learning models can be a great way to tailor your child’s educational experience to make it highly effective at giving them the tools and skills they need for continued success.

The success of personalized learning relies on several key elements, including:

  • The ability of the program to let the student learn at their own pace rather than adhering to strict timelines.
  • The implementation of multiple learning methods and ways to present content to foster better engagement with the material.
  • Direct instruction through personalized teacher engagement and live classes and activities are woven into the structure of the personal learning program,
  • Students dictate the terms of learning by setting goals that rely on mastery of the content.
  • Providing students with an active role in their learning styles and preferences.
  • Demonstrative learning lets students show off their new skills and knowledge in a way that promotes competency. This trait makes learning a personal experience by allowing students to show what they have learned and make their own choices.

Personalized learning plans can successfully be incorporated into a virtual education experience. The following strategies can help instructors ensure that this transition is successful.

Learn from others

When students learn from others, they often retain the information better than when instructors present it.

Using technology

Technology is at the core of virtual learning. And it will be a big part of future career success for today’s students. So selecting a platform that is easy to navigate but still lets students become comfortable with emerging technology is one of the best ways to prepare them for the future.

Student-led decision-making

Another key reason personalized learning plans are successful for many students is that they have a greater voice in dictating their academic experience.

Variation in content delivery

Online learning platforms have the distinct advantage of offering many learning models, from passive instruction to immersive activities. And they can incorporate additional off-line opportunities into the overall learning experience, which means their classroom is limitless.

Ongoing reassessment

Personalized learning plans let students and parents define unique goals. However, it also provides many opportunities to ‘check in’ on the progress along the way and tweak the learning plan to stress the most impactful methods. This strategy supports continued success.

Personalized learning plans are an excellent option for many students – even those thriving in a traditional school environment. This model lets students learn and progress at their own pace, which is one of the best ways to foster continued learning and growth positively!

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