Strategic planning can address challenges of self-paced learning

Posted: April 18th, 2018

Schools that have converted to a self-paced learning model find that the process creates the type of students who can think critically and learn new skills quickly — skills the workplace demands — but adapting to this learning model means schools have to address six common concerns about the process, District Administration reports.

Lack of motivation can be addressed by pairing students with mentor teachers to help with scheduling, while concerns about lack of supervision and immediate human feedback are resolved by the physical presence of teachers who interact with students after they take tests or when they have questions.

The danger of isolation can be resolved by partnering students for work on special projects and by having teachers work with students in small group settings to provide deeper instruction. Schools can also address technical issues and students' inexperience with digital platforms by allowing them to bring their own devices or issuing devices to all students and having teachers train on the same platform students use so they can answer questions about the process.

Self-paced learning offers many advantages to students because it empowers them to take more control over their own education. The concept also allows students to follow their own pace in different subject areas, so they can advance more quickly in areas that come more naturally to them. Self-paced learning is more personalized and is student-driven, which means they understand the relevance of what they learn. It can also prepare them for life-long learning as many adult education programs and workplace learning situations are set up on this model.

Schools can benefit because the approach allows for more flexibility such as the use of multiage classrooms. However, the approach requires a new learning mindset that teachers must cultivate in students, and sometimes, in themselves. Teachers need to find new ways of implementing instruction, but self-paced models often take much of the brunt of actual lesson planning out of their hands.

Schools leaders, however, have to make sure students have access to enough working devices, and teachers and students must learn how to navigate the platforms they are using. School leaders must also assign enough teachers to supervise students and provide supplemental instruction. They must also think about the part of a student's education that doesn't happen in a virtual environment, such as working on projects with other students, and participating in the arts or sports. With these concerns in mind, self-paced instruction can allow students to flourish.

Source: Amelia Harper