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As we wrap up the school year, planning for the fall has already begun. Whether making academic or extracurricular decisions, schools, this time of year, are making choices that require administrators and teachers to look at the budget, resources, and time. There is at least one initiative that every school will likely address during the summer and that is how to maximize its use of technology. While this is not a new question, the question has evolved in such a way that we are no longer questioning the need to make technology available for all students to use. Now, the question is how do we continue to deliver on what technology does best for schools and that is give students a more individualized learning experience. According to Katrina Schwartz, “the promise of technology use has been to give students more control over their learning, while helping teachers tailor the individual needs of every student.” The idea of “personalized learning” is the sweet spot that many schools strive to achieve; however, it is getting harder and harder to define personalized learning (and even harder to achieve due to cost); therefore, schools must now question how to provide personalized learning on a budget.
I believe personalized learning can not only be achieved but done well on a school budget. How? By giving students more open access to technology programs/software; we encourage them to jump into the “driver’s seat” when it comes to their learning. I realize that given the world we live in it is alarming to consider removing the thin barrier (portals and pass codes) we have created to protect a student’s privacy when using school computers. I never said giving students open access would be easy (there are lots of things that go into this decision); however, I do believe that for many schools and school districts the decision to give students more “control over their devices” has given students the ability to “go where their formal instruction ends.” Learn more about how schools, like Penn Manor School District in Pennsylvania, are providing more open access to technology (also consider whether or not open access to technology can help your school in the future). tlb