Personalized Learning Designer: a permanent partner

Nicolás Peña
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Thanks to the Personalized Learning Designer (PLD) from Moodlerooms, students who are recovering credit at the Montana Digital Academy from a previously failed face-to-face class  receive  personalized feedback that allows them to successfully achieve the course objectives they previously failed.

The creation of Montana Digital Academy in 2009 was a public initiative that sought to provide unique virtual education opportunities for students and schools in the state. As Jason Neiffer, Assistant Director/Curriculum Director, and Mike Agostinelli, Instructional Program Director, say, the objective of the institution is summarized as “tearing down barriers to make learning as accessible as possible.”

For this same reason, they aim to eliminate time barriers and school periods so that students can progress at their own pace without interruption, regardless of the size or location of the school.

Among the 29 state virtual schools that exist in the United States, MTDA is the only one that is part of a college of education or college or university campus, which helps drive the successful work that has continuously evolved over the last seven years to eliminate the barriers.

A frequent support

MTDA has developed a strategy to increase the successful completion of credit recovery courses thanks to Moodlerooms. Their experience working with students trying to recover credit showed that these students need consistent and predictable feedback that allows them to understand what they were doing well and where they needed additional support.

To facilitate this communication, Moodlerooms’ Personalized Learning Designer allowed them to build a comprehensive system of notifications that informs the student about their progress and also notifies the teachers, school administration, and parents about student performance in the course.

Moodlerooms’ Personalized Learning Designer is based on creating rules that automatically activate events in the course aimed at students, according to their particular situation. Each rule operates from an initial activity, and when particular conditions are accomplished, they trigger an action. For example, if a student achieves a score of 55% on a quiz, they will automatically receive an email with specific suggestions in order to improve their performance. On the contrary, if a lesson is successfully complete, the next learning activity is automatically activated for that particular student. This saves time for teachers to follow the progress of each student in detail, providing special support to those who need it, and accelerating the learning process of those students with pre existing content knowledge.

Regarding the use of this tool in MTDA courses, Neiffer adds, “We believe that the amount of support must vary according to individual needs. By sending notifications to everyone involved in the learning process through Personalized Learning Designer, the student keeps that clear path towards the goal throughout the semester.”

For MTDA, having communication channels permanently open between all stakeholders, is a key contributor toward student success in a course. Having continuous digital contact with a support team is a very motivating element for students, especially when they are facing difficulties along the way.

A successful integration

MTDA experts relied on the versatility of PLD to obtain additional data and integrate it with Google Spreadsheets. When an event generates information, such as when a student completes a learning activity, all the data can automatically move to a spreadsheet in real time. “With that information we could build our own pacing algorithm to provide a new source of information to local institutions in order to help them follow the student’s progress,” Agostinelli says.

Personalized Learning Designer allowed them to build a comprehensive system of notifications that informs the student about their progress and also notifies the teachers, school administration, and parents about student performance in the course.”

For him and his team, the use of PLD is an invaluable tool for teachers because it provides real-time support during the learning process. “Every teacher’s dream is to give personalized feedback to each one of their students on every assignment,” adds Neiffer. Students have also responded well to MTDA’s work. In the past two years, more than 80% of them said that they were between “satisfied” and “very satisfied” with their classes.

This satisfaction has also spread to others involved in the education process (parents, institutions, teachers, etc.) who appreciate the consistency and relevance of each communication in a special way. In Agostinelli’s words PLD has been a “game changer”. “It’s one of the ways in which Montana Digital Academy is breaking down the barriers to make learning as simple as possible.”


*Jason Neiffer (Right), Assistant Director/Curriculum Director, Montana Digital Academy.

*Mike Agostinelli (Left), Instructional Program Director, Montana Digital Academy.

*Photos by: AFP Tommy Martino

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