How do people learn? Does everyone learn the same way? What does it look like for a designer to learn and then translate that learning into meaningful, effective learning for others?
These questions, and so many more, drove the learning portion of my program. The most effective way to demonstrate my own learning about learning is to highlight a project I saw through from start to finish during the duration of the first three semesters of my graduate education.
It started with a question.
Can learning be personalized without a teacher doing the work for each and every student?
A literature review of personalized learning answered with a cautious “yes.”
The answer is Artificial Intelligence.

The functional class is called Tech Talk.

The applications of the technology are endless.

The Literature Review

Personalized learning is not a new educational theory, but it has exponentially increased in popularity in more recent years. This study will discuss the definitions of personalized learning and examine how instructional technology has been applied recently to personalized learning, and how it can be improved in the near future. Special consideration is given to Artificial Intelligence’s applications in personalized learning. Current practices, future trends, and case studies were used, with an emphasis on the most recent data, not older than 4 years, except in one case study. Personalized learning is a growing movement in education with new technologies developing rapidly and being implemented in diverse ways across many learning environments.

Click the image to read the review.

The Class: Tech Talk

I was fortunate to meet with a Canvas specialist who introduced me to their technology called Mastery Paths. It was largely unused, mostly as a way for Middle School English teachers to give students several writing prompt options within a single assignment.

For my program, it solved a major problem: Our digital literacy was one-size-fits-all and highly ineffective. In fact, at the time it was a checklist that students filled out and we filed, and that was it. But since we had students who never turned on a computer to tech-savvy students, there wasn’t a great option.

Mastery Paths allows for 3 pathways after a graded assignment. By using auto-grading, students could be funneled into their lessons instantly and automatically – that’s artificial intelligence. Inside Tech Talk, students take a quiz on a digital literacy topic. Their answers put them in level 1, 2, or 3 lessons, or test them out of that topic.

Now my students have an effective digital literacy class that meets them right where they’re at and doesn’t frustrate them with needless exercises.

The WY Innovations Conference

One of the coolest things to come from Tech Talk was presenting the tech and the class at the Wyoming Innovations in Education Conference in 2021. K-12 and Higher Ed educators joined me to see how artificial intelligence can personalize learning and how it’s reachable for them. I shared my format for them to copy and many educators left encouraged that they could duplicate my efforts and automate certain lessons, units, or classes.

Click the image to see the slideshow presentation.

The Innovations Podcast

After I had Tech Talk running smoothly, I started presenting it to other educators. In this podcast, I discuss the response to Tech Talk, how to get past the fear of AI, and brilliant ideas other educators are using the same technology for as a result. 

Applications of AI Assisted Personalized Learning

I sat down with other educators from K – Higher Ed to brainstorm innovative applications of this technology beyond digital literacy. I showed them my digital literacy class and how I personalized it, then we discussed some of the limitations and roadblocks, then I set them loose to come up with their own ideas. 

Here’s the top 4 uses they came up with, and then we’ll talk about the benefits of each of these uses. 

  • Review: A high school math teacher said he will load the review portion of his math curriculum into Canvas using Mastery Paths. Students will be assigned this course as homework, but will only have to review what they don’t know. The teacher will be able to start teaching new material earlier as students review on their own time.
  • Case Studies or Interest Based Group Assignments: One educator will set up a graded discussion around a skill. Students will be graded in the discussion based on interest, not ability. Then they will be automatically grouped via Mastery Paths and only assigned to the group based on their interest. Each group might study one case study or collaborate on an assignment based on a common interest.
  • Creative Projects: Sets up a “Choose Your Own Adventure” type project where students choose the next direction of their writing and receive a related prompt or question .
  • Learning with large variation in student ability: This is like my digital literacy example. When there’s a subject that some students are extremely proficient in while others are lacking basic skills, personalized learning is key. Some other examples might be social capital skills, employability skills, health and nutrition, and computer applications.