Summit Learning's personalized learning platform lets students split their time between working on group projects and completing lessons on computers, but the most important component of its strategy is a heavy dose of one-on-one communication between students and teachers, Chalkbeat reports.
The platform, developed with the help of Facebook engineers and backed by Mark Zuckerberg, is free for schools. Developers completed its mentoring component in the summer of 2018 by adding a tool that lets teachers automatically schedule time with students, including an agenda to help structure the one-on-one time.
The platform’s focus on mentoring is part of an industry shift away from a tech-only approach. The tool creates a structure for teachers to enter mentoring notes and ensures schedules include adequate mentoring time.
Many educators reject the idea personalized learning means students learn at their own pace while sitting in front of a computer. Linda Darling-Hammond, president and CEO of the Learning Policy Institute, believes personalized learning requires the “right blend of teachers, peers and tech.”
Some districts, such as Dallas Independent School District, use personalized learning technology to compete with charter schools. There, personalized learning platforms are used in the district’s Transformation and Innovation Schools — which are similar to magnets and use a lottery enrollment system.
Teacher training and professional development is also sometimes overlooked in personalized approaches. Teachers need training to guide students through these systems, and the practice also requires students to help pave their own learning pathway and incorporate their interests into curriculum, with choice on how progress is assessed.
Glenn Robbins, superintendent of New Jersey's Brigantine Public Schools, previously suggested to Education Dive that it’s nearly impossible to measure grit, adaptability and creativity. “When will we accept that today’s learners no longer need to live near a library to be successful, as they have vast amounts of resources in their palms or all around them in this technologically advanced world?” he asked.