Personalised versus collaborative learning

There seems to be a bit of tension between personalising learning and encouraging collaboration in the classroom. I would like to argue that, to ensure our students are successful learners, we need to have both personalisation and collaboration in our classes.

Personalisation is integral in allowing students to learn at their own pace, to learn what they need to, to reflect on their  learning, have ownership  over their learning and therefore have success. I believe that students should also be able to, and be given the opportunity to, personalise their own learning too.

Collaboration is also important. We know that the word is moving, and has already moved, towards a more collaborative model of working.  Problem solving is a key skill for a 21st Century learner and collaboration allows this to occur organically.  It also allows for students to have success in areas that would not be possible without peers support and enhances students’ learning opportunities.

So how do such apparently contradictory models ‘work’ together? In my class children tend to choose when and when not to collaborate.  For example, each child has individual, personalised writing goals. They are all on different learning pathways. However, students will get together with others who share the same goal, they will offer support to peers who are struggling with a goal they have already met and they will seek help in the same manner. In this way, students proactively collaborate to meet personalised goals.

I think that to educate 21st Century learners effectively, we must allow for both personalised and collaborative learning to occur in our classes.


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