Thursday, 17 May 2012

A Flexible Timetable Leads to a Personalized Approach

In a previous blog post, I wrote about the belief I share with people such as Salman Khan that schools of the future will utilize blended learning as a tool to personalize the student experience. To truly personalize, however, we need to do more than use technology to enhance learning. We need to change our timetables to create greater flexibility.

At Greenwood College School, we have spent time this year discussing how the timetable will need to change in the eventual future in order to continue meeting the needs of our school’s mission, as well as accommodate a more personalized approach to learning.

The ideal timetable would have large blocks of time dedicated to various learning tasks. There would be some flexible time in which students could choose the subject or activity they would work on during that time. Other time would be more structured with a common lecture, tutorial or rehearsal for many students enrolled in a course.

Our current timetable has equal blocks of time for every subject. This is not ideal for many students. Some students need to spend more time on their writing and research-related courses, others need to spend more time on math or on a language. A flexible timetable can accommodate the needs of each individual student as they can choose to spend more time on their area of need or interest.

We feel that this combination of the flexible with the traditional will allow for more space within a day or week for students to extend their learning with excursions or cross-curricular projects, while maintaining teacher guidance.

A flexible timetable would enable students to enrich and personalize their school experience through excursions. For example, French students could go on a week-long trip to France or science students could do a few days of field study. If these students’ day-to-day schedule is flexible and their courses were being offered in a blended learning manner, then these excursions would not interfere with their learning in other courses.

The online materials and teacher support of a blended learning program would afford students who have a flexible timetable the time to work ahead - or catch up on the work not done - in their other courses while they were out of school.

These trips could become part of a personalized program for a student if they cover the expectations from a unit or multiple units within a course. If, for example, the student has covered a unit of their science course through a field study, they would not need to cover this material in the classroom.

The student would have completed these course requirements, but in a different way than their classmates. This would then free up time for the student to complete cross-curricular projects or to work on subjects that require more of their time.

Eventually adding more flexibility into the timetable will lead to a more personalized approach to many students’ school program.

Heather Rigby
Director of Personalized Learning

No comments:

Post a Comment