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Study: Online learning needs to be more personalized

Courtesy: Michigan Virtual University

A new study by Michigan Virtual University is calling for schools to do more to adapt online learning to students' learning needs.

MVU is a non-profit set up by the state in 1998. It offers online courses and professional development to Michigan's K-12 schools.

MVU interviewed dozens of state and national education leaders about the future of education and the best role for technology.

Jamie Fitzpatrick is President of MVU and says “we’ve served a lot of kids with health issues, gifted athletes that compete internationally, and a lot of kids who may have failed a course in their local school who need to make up credit.” 

But he says their audience is expanding. “We’re starting to see young people tell us that ‘I don’t have a health issue that’s preventing me from going to school,'” he adds. “'I’m not a world class athlete. I don’t have a learning disability. I’m just an average teenage kid and I want to take an online class because I think it might be an interesting way to learn.’”

He’s says the next phase of the process will be challenging, but exciting. “We’ve got to figure out how do we think about this vision, that really is anchored around really good teachers making use of these incredible tools to help kids achieve at rates we haven’t achieved before.”

About 25,000 Michigan high school students will take online courses this year. 

MVU’s press release about the study outlined the six recommendations to improve educational outcomes for Michigan’s K-12 students:

  1. Students: Michigan must formalize in policy strategies and tactics that permit each student to learn at his or her own pace.
  2. Teachers: Michigan must create a statewide system of support for teachers as they transition their instructional practice to methods that allow for full implementation of personalized learning.
  3. Schools: Schools must have support from the state as they create spaces that support personalized learning including technology integration and spaces for more individual and small group work.
  4. Technology: Michigan needs an independent, neutral and trusted voice in the educational sector to help providers and districts deploy technology that works.
  5. Data: The state must create and support a data infrastructure that teachers, parents, students and schools can use to inform individualized instruction.
  6. Quality and Accountability: The governor should appoint an independent authority to evaluate the quality of content providers.

MVU will host regional forums in Detroit, Grand Rapids, Lansing and Marquette to talk with teachers and community stakeholders about moving K-12 education faster and farther in Michigan.  Dates and times, when available, will be posted at www.mivu.org.  

- Chris Zollars, Michigan Radio Newsroom

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