Emphasizing Personal Instruction with “Digital Backpacks” and “Learner Profiles”

The national education technology advancement campaign Digital Learning Now! released their second interactive paper “Data Backpacks: Portal Records & Learner Profiles.” The report zeros in on the sharing of student information and data and concludes that today’s education system is lagging behind in that regard.

The report claims that the particulars of individual students are not known to the teachers before the start of the school year. If data was more available about what kind of students these kids were, teachers would be able to better produce personalized learning solutions starting at day one. The report suggests creating “data backbacks” and “learner profiles” that would follow the student from year to year and from class to class. Remember earlier when we reported on Magical Teaching’s Derek Smith and his colleagues sharing anecdotal information about students at the start of the year? Digital Learning Now’s recommendation would augment word-of-mouth transfer of information with hard data and findings about particular students.

According to EdWeek’s blog:

“Data backpacks, which would be a digital store of information, would include transcript data such as demographic information, state testing data, and any student supports, as well as standards-based performance data, an electronic portfolio of student work, attendance and behavior records, end-of-course grades, and learning gains tied to standards. This would serve as a “super gradebook” and could even include observations from teachers.”

The “learner profiles” would be focused on longer-term progress students are making toward college and career readiness. It would include digital badges—read Claire’s recent take on the method—and other recognitions about goals and achievements.

At Digital Learning Now’s suggestion, teachers could theoretically be more capable of tailoring their instruction to the personalized needs of students. If you combine this kind of thinking with the concept of the flipped classroom and the blended learning approach, it’s easy to envision a kind of educational revolution.

Digital Learning Now! is a campaign of the Foundation for Excellence in Education to advance state policies that support digital learning in K-12 schools.