Archive of ‘instructional technology’ category

personalized learning

Personalized Learning: What It Really Is and Why It Really Matters


Personalized Learning: What It Really Is and Why It Really Matters

The following is a re-post from a 2016 EDUCAUSE Review article of ours with minor updates.

(1) the circumstances under which personalized learning can help students and

(2) the best way to evaluate the real educational value for products that are marketed under the personalized learning banner.

The most descriptive label we could come up with for the practices that the two of us have observed in our school visits might be undepersonalized teaching.

The most stereotypical depersonalized teaching experience is the large lecture class, but there are many other situations in which teachers do not connect with individual students and/or meet the students’ specific needs. For example, even a small class might contain students with a wide-enough range of skills, aptitudes, and needs that the teacher cannot possibly serve them all equally well. Or a student may have needs (or aptitudes) that the teacher simply doesn’t get an opportunity to see within the amount of contact time that the class allows. The truth is that students fall through the cracks all the time, even in the best classes taught by the best teachers. Failing a course is the most visible evidence, but more often students drift through the class and earn a passing grade—maybe even a good grade—without getting any lasting educational benefit.

personalized learning as a practice rather than a product

Technology then becomes an enabler for increasing meaningful personal contact. In our observations, we have seen three main technology-enabled strategies for lowering classroom barriers to one-on-one teacher/student (and student/student) interactions:

  1. Moving content broadcast out of the classroom: Even in relatively small classes, a lot of class time can be taken up with content broadcast such as lectures and announcements. Personalized learning strategies often try to move as much broadcast out of class time as possible in order to make room for more conversation. This strategy is sometimes called “flipping” because it is commonly accomplished by having the teacher record the lectures they would normally give in class and assign the lecture videos as homework,
  2. Turning homework time into contact time: In a traditional class, much of the work that the students do is invisible to the teacher. For some aspects, such as homework problems, teachers can observe the results but are often severely limited by time constraints.Personalized learning approaches often allow the teacher to observe the students’ work in digital products, so that there is more opportunity to coach students.
  3. Providing tutoring: Sometimes students get stuck in problem areas that don’t require help from a skilled human instructor. Although software isn’t good at teaching everything, it can be good at teaching some things. Personalized learning approaches can offload the tutoring for those topics to adaptive learning software that gives students interactive feedback while also turning the students’ work into contact time by making it observable to the teacher at a glance through analytics.


personalized learning

In the business world, an analogous initiative might be called “business process redesign.” Emphasis is on process. The primary question being asked is, “What is the most effective way to accomplish the goal?” The redesigned process may well need software, but it is the process itself that matters. In personalized learning, the process we are redesigning is that of teaching individual students what they need to learn from a class as effectively as possible (though we can easily imagine applying the same kind of exercise to improving advising, course registration, or any other important function).

Self-Regulated Learning

Students in the course spend part of their class time in a computer lab, working at their own pace through an adaptive learning math program. Students who already know much of the content can move through it quickly, giving them more time to master the concepts that they have yet to learn. Students who have more to learn can take their time and get tutoring and reinforcement from the software. Teachers, now freed from the task of lecturing, roam the room and give individual attention to those students who need it. They can also see how students are doing, individually and as a class, through the software’s analytics. But the course has another critical component that takes place outside the computer lab, separate from the technology. Every week, the teachers meet with the students to discuss learning goals and strategies. Students review the goals they set the previous week, discuss their progress toward those goals, evaluate whether the strategies they used helped them, and develop new goals for the next week.

more on personalized learning

second IMS podcast on technology in education

Second IMS podcast on technology in education: Constructivism

Today’s vocast will be broadcasted live at:

Adobe Connect      |     Facebook Live   |       Twitter (#IMSvodcast) |

and will be archived at:

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IMS vodcast technology in education

Posted by InforMedia Services on Thursday, February 22, 2018

Student-centered learning theory and practice are based on the constructivist learning theory that emphasizes the learner’s critical role in constructing meaning from new information and prior experience.

  • What is it?
  • Why do we have to know about it
  • Can we just disagree and stick to behaviorism?
  • Is it about student engagement?
  • Is it about the use of technology?
  • Resources
      Crompton, Muilenburg and Berge’s definition for m-learning is “learning across multiple contexts, through social and content interactions, using personal electronic devices.”
    • The “context”in this definition encompasses m-learnng that is formalself-directed, and spontaneous learning, as well as learning that is context aware and context neutral.
    • therefore, m-learning can occur inside or outside the classroom, participating in a formal lesson on a mobile device; it can be self-directed, as a person determines his or her own approach to satisfy a learning goal; or spontaneous learning, as a person can use the devices to look up something that has just prompted an interest (Crompton, 2013, p. 83). (Gaming article Tallinn)Constructivist Learnings in the 1980s – Following Piage’s (1929), Brunner’s (1996) and Jonassen’s (1999) educational philosophies, constructivists proffer that knowledge acquisition develops through interactions with the environment. (p. 85). The computer was no longer a conduit for the presentation of information: it was a tool for the active manipulation of that information” (Naismith, Lonsdale, Vavoula, & Sharples, 2004, p. 12)Constructionist Learning in the 1980s – Constructionism differed from constructivism as Papert (1980) posited an additional component to constructivism: students learned best when they were actively involved in constructing social objects. The tutee position. Teaching the computer to perform tasks.Problem-Based learning in the 1990s – In the PBL, students often worked in small groups of five or six to pool knowledge and resources to solve problems. Launched the sociocultural revolution, focusing on learning in out of school contexts and the acquisition of knowledge through social interaction
    • Socio-Constructivist Learning in the 1990s. SCL believe that social and individual processes are independent in the co-construction of knowledge (Sullivan-Palinscar, 1998; Vygotsky, 1978).
    • 96-97). Keegan (2002) believed that e-learning was distance learning, which has been converted to e-learning through the use of technologies such as the WWW. Which electronic media and tools constituted e-learning: e.g., did it matter if the learning took place through a networked technology, or was it simply learning with an electronic device?
  • Discussion
    • Share with us practical examples of applying constructivist approach in your class
    • Would one hour workshop on turning existing class assignments into constructivist-based class assignments be of interest for you?


schoology interoperability

How One District Created a Culture of Innovation Through Interoperability

Join the Executive Director of Technology for the School District of Pickens County in South Carolina, Barbara Nesbitt, on Thursday, February 22 at 1pm EST to hear how they used Schoology to:

  • Centralize their technologies and resources
  • Save teachers time to focus on student achievement
  • Ensure a consistent student experience from grade-to-grade
  • Expand learning outside the physical classroom

more on schoology in this IMS blog

challenges ed leaders technology

The Greatest Challenge Facing School Leaders in a Digital World

By Scott McLeod     Oct 29, 2017

the Center for the Advanced Study of Tech­nology Leadership in Education – CASTLE


If a school’s reputation and pride are built on decades or centuries of “this is how we’ve always done things here,” resistance from staff, parents, and alumni to significant changes may be fierce. In such institutions, heads of school may have to steer carefully between deeply ingrained habits and the need to modernize the information tools with which students and faculty work

Too often, when navigating faculty or parental resistance, school leaders and technology staff make reassurances that things will not have to change much in the classroom or that slow baby steps are OK. Unfortunately, this results in a different problem, which is that schools have now invested significant money, time, and energy into digital technologies but are using them sparingly and seeing little impact. In such schools, replicative uses of technology are quite common, but transformative uses that leverage the unique affordances of technology are quite rare.

many schools fail to proceed further because they don’t have a collective vision of what more transformative uses of technology might look like, nor do they have a shared understanding of and commitment to what it will take to get to such a place. As a result, faculty instruction and the learning experiences of students change little or not at all.

These schools have taken the time to involve all stakeholders—including students—in substantive conversations about what digital tools will allow them to do differently compared with previous analog practices. Their visions promote the potential of computing devices to facilitate all of those elements we now think of as essential 21st-century capacities: confidence, curiosity, enthusiasm, passion, critical thinking, problem-solving, and self-direction. Technology doesn’t simply support traditional teaching—it transforms it for deeper thinking and gives students more agency over their own learning.


Another prevalent issue preventing technology change in schools is fear—fear of change, of the unknown, of letting go of what we know best, of being learners again. But it’s also a fear of letting kids have wide access to the Internet with the possibility of cyberbullying, access to inappropriate material, and exposure to online predators or even excessive advertising. Fears, of course, need to be surfaced and addressed.

The fear drives some schools to ban cellphones, disallow students and faculty from using Facebook, and lock down Internet filters so tightly that useful websites are inaccessible. They prohibit the use of Twitter and YouTube, and they block blogs. Some educators see these types of responses as principled stands against the shortcomings and hassles of digital technologies. Others see them as rejections of the dehumanization of the education process by soulless machines. Often, however, it’s just schools clinging to the past and elevating what is comfortable or familiar over the potential of technology to help them better deliver on their school missions.

Heads of school don’t have to be skilled users themselves to be effective technology leaders, but they do have to exercise appropriate oversight and convey the message—repeatedly—that frequent, meaningful technology use in school is both important and expected. Nostalgia aside, there is no foreseeable future in which the primacy of printed text is not superseded by electronic text and multimedia. When nearly all information is digital or online, multi-modal and multi­media, accessed by mobile devices that fit in our pockets, the question should not be whether schools prepare students for a digital learning landscape, but rather how.


Many educators aren’t necessarily afraid of technology, but they are so accustomed to heavily teacher-directed classrooms that they are leery about giving up control—and can’t see the value in doing so.

Although most of us recognize that mobile computers connected to the Internet may be the most powerful learning devices yet invented—and that youth are learning in powerful ways at home with these technologies—allowing students to have greater autonomy and ownership of the learning process can still seem daunting and questionable.

The “beyond” is particularly important. When we give students some voice in and choice about what and how they learn, we honor basic human needs for autonomy, we enhance students’ interest and engagement, and we truly actualize our missions of preparing lifelong learners.

The goal of instructional transformation is to empower students, not to disempower teachers. While instructor unfamiliarity with digital technologies, inquiry- or problem-based teaching techniques, or deeper learning strategies may result in some initial discomfort, these challenges can be overcome with robust support.


A few workshops here and there rarely result in large-scale changes in implementation.

teacher-driven “unconferences” or “edcamps,” at which educators propose and facilitate discussion topics, can be powerful mechanisms for fostering professional dialogue and learning. Similarly, some schools offer voluntary “Tech Tuesdays” or “appy hours” to foster digital learning among interested faculty.

In addition to existing IT support, technology integration staff, or librarians/media specialists, some schools have student technology teams that are on call for assistance when needed.

A few middle schools and high schools go even further and assign teachers their own individual student technology mentors. These student-teacher pairings last all school year and comprise the first line of support for educators’ technology questions.

As teachers, heads of school, counselors, coaches, and librarians, we all now have the ability to participate in ongoing, virtual, global communities of practice.

Whether formal or informal, the focus of technology-related professional learning should be on student learning, not on the tools or devices. Independent school educators should always ask, “Technology for the purpose of what?” when considering the inclusion of digital technologies into learning activities. Technology never should be implemented just for technology’s sake.

more on digital literacy for EDAD in this IMS blog

net neutrality and education

3 Ways a Net Neutrality Repeal Might Impact Universities

The impending change in internet regulations could be detrimental to the quality of education students receive.
Meghan Bogardus Cortez , Jan 11, 2018

1. Technology that Increases Access Hits the Slow Lane

Innovations in videoconferencing and lecture capture technologies have allowed universities to provide flexible learning experiences to students no matter their location. However, if internet service providers are allowed to create “fast lanes” and “slow lanes” of access, experts worry these learning experiences will be in jeopardy.
“slow lanes” of internet access could make it difficult for students to access cloud software or applications without hitting data caps.

2. Inhibit Ability to Research and Access Materials

a 40-page commentary to the FCC explaining how a repeal would hurt universities, eCampus News reports.

“Institutions of higher education and libraries depend upon an open internet to carry out their educational and civic missions, and to serve their communities,” reads the commentary.

“almost everything” relies on the internet in higher education. Students use it for research, to take courses and turn in assignments while faculty use it for research and to create lesson plans. Roberts says his library needs it to archive and preserve materials. Slower internet could inhibit research and access to library resources.

3. Increased Costs Without Increased Educational Experiences

high cost of attending a university might see a bump without net neutrality.
slower internet access would actually degrade the quality of education offered for a higher cost.

more on net neutrality and education in this IMS blog

Online Students Need More Interaction

Online Students Need More Interaction with Peers and Teachers [#Infographic]

New research shows online learners are seeking more interaction, mobile device support and career services.

university administrators want to make sure their courses are up to standards and their students are supported.

new report from the Learning House and Aslanian Market Research measures the opinions of 1,500 online students regarding everything from course satisfaction to study methods

institutions need to more clearly share the positive outcomes that come with completing degree and certificate programs online.”

online courses would be better if there was more contact and engagement.

online students

more on online students in this IMS blog

Python or R at SCSU

Dear Colleagues,

Software Carpentry ( is coming to SCSU campus.

Want to learn basic computer programming skills specifically tailored for academia?
Please consider a FREE two-day workshop on either on Python or on R.

Python is a programming language that is simple, easy to learn for beginners and experienced programmers, and emphasizes readability. At the same time, it comes with lots of modules and packages to add to your programs when you need more sophistication. Whether you need to perform data analysis, graphing, or develop a network application, or just want to have a nice calculator that remembers all your formulas and constants, Python can do it with elegance.

R (RStudio) is a language and environment for statistical computing and graphics. R provides a wide variety of statistical and graphical techniques. R can produce well-designed publication-quality plots, including mathematical symbols and formulae.

Both software packages are free and operate on MS Windows, MAC/Apple and GNU/Linux OS.
Besides seamless installation on your personal computer, you can access both software in SCSU computer labs or via SCSU AppsAnywhere.

In an effort to accommodate as many faculty as possible, please indicate whether you want Python or R and check your availability using these Doodle polls:



Questions? Suggestions? Please do not hesitate to ask:

For more information:  #SoftwareCarpentry


Collaborative Instructional Technology Support Model

Online Course | Designing a Collaborative Instructional Technology Support Model

Part 1: March 7, 2018 | 1:00–2:30 p.m. ET
Part 2: March 14, 2018 | 1:00–2:30 p.m. ET
Part 3: March 21, 2018 | 1:00–2:30 p.m. ET

Faculty need a variety of instructional technology support—instructional design, content development, technology, training, and assessment—to name a few. They don’t want to go to one place for help, find out they’re in the wrong place, and be sent somewhere else—digitally or physically. Staff don’t want to provide help in silos or duplicate what other units are doing.

So, how can academic service providers collaborate to offer the right instructional technology support services, in the right place, at the right time, in the right way? In this course, instructional technologists, instructional designers, librarians, and instructional technology staff will learn to use a tool called the Service Center Canvas that does just that.

Learning Objectives:

During this course, participants will:

  • Explore the factors that influence how instructional technology support services are offered in higher education
  • Answer critical questions about how your instructional technology support services should be delivered relative to broader trends and institutional goals
  • Experiment with ways to prototype new services and/or new ways of delivering them
  • Identify potential implementation obstacles and ways to address them

NOTE: Participants will be asked to complete assignments in between the course segments that support the learning objectives stated below and will receive feedback and constructive critique from course facilitators on how to improve and shape their work.

Course Facilitators

Elliot FelixElliot Felix, Founder and CEO, brightspot strategy

Felix founded and leads brightspot, a strategy consultancy that reimagines places, rethinks services, and redesigns organizations on university campuses so that people are better connected to a purpose, information, and each other. Felix is accomplished strategist, facilitator, and sense-maker who has helped transform over 70 colleges and universities.


Adam GriffAdam Griff, Director, brightspot strategy

Adam Griff is a director at brightspot. He helps universities rethink their space, reinvent their service offerings, and redesign their organization to improve the experiences of their faculty, students, and staff, connecting people and processes to create simple and intuitive answers to complex questions. He has led projects with a wide range of higher education institutions including University of Wisconsin–Madison, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and University of California, Berkeley.

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