Charting a Path to Personalized Learning

Discover how Dell Technologies and SETDA are supporting Digital Learning Day initiatives with Chart Your Path blended learning resources.
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After experiencing pandemic learning, students are calling for a change in how we “do school”. In the words of a high school junior, “Why do we need a seven-hour school day? We need to completely change the way we structure that whole system…there is an opportunity here to completely reinvent the way students learn.”

In March 2020, school districts rapidly shifted to emergency remote learning environments, which for most, was an entirely new structure of schooling. While there were significant challenges and interrupted learning, there were also positive experiences for students, educators, and families. Additionally, it raised awareness of the need for digitally inclusive environments, as schools worked to ensure every student was connected and able to continue their education.

These experiences highlighted inequities, challenged longstanding ideas about school, accelerated conversations about reinventing learning and raised many questions such as:

    • How might we rethink our design to meet the individual needs of every student?
    • Would moving away from traditional structures help us better meet student needs?
    • What can we do to build equitable learning experiences?
    • How do we expand the reach of our most impactful teachers?

We now have an opportunity to focus on these and other questions and decide what comes next. We have the unique opportunity to reinvent school and build sustainable, innovative learning experiences. Reinventing education models should include personalized, competency-based learning (PCBL). Learning in PCBL environments gives students voice and choice in their education journey, while aligning to their individual needs. It provides an opportunity to meet each student where they are, which is more important than ever after two years of wide-ranging experiences.

According to the Aurora Institute, there is widespread investment in competency-based education. As educators and communities strive to overcome the far-reaching impacts of the pandemic, they continue to support the varied learning needs of their students. Learning experiences should allow students to advance based on their demonstration of proficiency, rather than time spent on a task or in class to succeed.

To support the implementation of PCBL, in 2021, Dell Technologies and the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA) collaborated with state technology leaders to develop resources for teams to engage in the comprehensive implementation of PCBL. The Chart Your Path: Personalized, Competency-Based Learning (PCBL) resources are for state, district and school leaders who wish to utilize blended learning as a mechanism to personalize instruction and meet the individual needs of their students.

The PCBL website focuses on three core areas: reflection, resources, and assessment. The tools on this site are designed to help educators create a shared process for implementation. They may be the catalyst for an initial conversation or serve as a resource for continued growth for those well down the path of the work. Users can explore definitionsreflect with teamsengage in a readiness assessment and use curated resources to develop a blueprint for implementation and continuous improvement.

It’s an opportunity to reinvent and strengthen our educational system and support in-demand skills and attributes, opening doors for the jobs and careers of tomorrow. At Dell Technologies, we’ve always believed in the power of technology to drive human progress. As part of our Progress Made Real initiatives, PCBL is a critical tool in helping us meet our 2030 Moonshot Goal of advancing health, education, and economic opportunity to one billion people by 2030.

In addition to the Chart Your Path PCBL resources, our partnership with SETDA has spanned several U.S. initiatives including our support of policy development around funding for next-generation broadband infrastructure. We also evaluated the possibility of a uniform process across states to measure digital equity, understanding this will help to accelerate the implementation of PCBL. Dell Technologies would like to thank our colleagues at SETDA and the educators who developed this resource for their partnership on our combined mission to create a digitally inclusive world.

Tara Nattrass

About the Author: Tara Nattrass

Dr. Tara Nattrass is currently serving as Senior Education Strategist at Dell Technologies supporting educators in meeting their goals as they reinvent learning. Tara is an experienced educator focused on eliminating opportunity gaps and ensuring every student is engaged in meaningful learning experiences in healthy, safe, and supportive environments. Tara has held a variety of roles in schools and districts, most recently as Assistant Superintendent of Teaching and Learning for Arlington Public Schools (VA) where she collaborated with teams to implement systems and structures that lead to success for all students. Tara has also served as a classroom teacher in St. Louis and Cobham, England; literacy facilitator; school level administrator; Director of Elementary Education; and part-time lecturer for undergraduate and graduate students. She has experience implementing programs such as Language Immersion, Montessori, and International Baccalaureate. Tara earned a Doctorate in K-12 Educational Leadership and Policy from Vanderbilt University.
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