Written by Brandon Berthrong of BSD Education.
Personalized learning is a topic of ever-increasing importance in today’s educational environment, and code fits perfectly within its ideals.
Personalized learning is all about tailoring the learning experience to the needs of students, allowing them to gain more out of education by focusing on things that interest them and using learning styles that best suit their needs. Code offers a unique opportunity to allow for structured and yet personalized learning. Ultimately, the way you learn to code is by completing projects.
Just as there is an immeasurable number of applications for code, there are a huge number of application connected project scenarios out there for students to get the practice they need. Moreover, in programming, there is rarely only one way to solve a problem. This lack of definite right answers means that learners are able to flex their own creative muscles, engaging their minds in figuring out how to reach the desired outcome. This lends itself strongly to personalized learning, as even if a class of students at school is all working on the same project, each student can focus on solving the problems in a way that best suits their interests. More advanced students can try more complicated solutions, while other students can focus on building the basics and developing a better understanding of how fundamental elements work and interact.
As an example, if a class was doing a simple project like creating a poster with HTML and CSS, some students might create a poster with a solid background, blocks of text, and maybe an image. More advanced students might instead add changing background colors, embed videos or make elements of the poster interactive. Every participant can make the poster about something they’re interested in or something they are learning, adding another element of personalization, keeping students more engaged. Projects like building websites, video games, chatbots, to-do-lists, random generators (of characters, world’s, numbers, names…), bots, data tracking programs, etc all allow incredible levels of customization.
Enabling students to do things that interest them while, still working towards a common goal, connects strongly to the foundations of personalized learning. The type of project-based learning that is essential to learn code allows students to practice their creative thinking skills while also producing concrete products they can be proud of. It’s a win-win for everyone.