School looks into mass customized learning

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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA-TV) - Technology in the classroom has evolved dramatically since the most senior teachers began their careers in the 1980's. It is transforming what students learn and how and when they learn it.

Dave Swank, principal of Canyon Lake Elementary School

The staff at Canyon Lake Elementary is going to pilot an educational philosophy of sorts known as Mass Customized Learning (MCL) - or Personalized Learning.

Mass Customized Learning allows learning systems to leave the Industrial Age and enter into an Information Age learning-based system. Because we live in the Information Age, our students are able to learn anything, from anywhere in any way from world-wide experts.

Many public schools operate using the Industrial Age method. Teachers teach a specific student, specific subjects, in a specific classroom on a specific schedule from a specific teacher.
Once implemented, students will have choices regarding how they want to learn, choosing from a menu of options that include large and small groups led by teachers, collaborative peer work groups, and independent learning using innovative technology.

Dave Swank, principal of Canyon Lake Elementary, received a $90,000 grant to implement a new teaching method. Students will be able to curate, with guidance from teachers, a "playlist" of learning experiences, personalized to each student.

Canyon Lake Elementary won $90,000 Classroom Innovation grant, funded by the legislature in 2016-2017. The grant provides funding for teacher development and training, as well as classroom access to virtual education and new learning tools to foster customized learning.

Every single staff member at Canyon Lake will participate in a book study on the concept. Four of the staff at Canyon Lake will also head to Maine to check out a school that adopted the MCL concept.

By the fall of 2018, Principal Swank hopes to make personalized learning a reality for students at Canyon Lake Elementary.

There is interest at other schools In our district. If all goes well, MCL may be something that is adopted by other schools in the Rapid City public school district in the future.

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