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i-Learn - personalized digital learning in Flemish education

Wouter Van der Hoeven, Educational Researcher & Wim Van Petegem, Professor Learning Technologies at the Catholic University of Leuven
  • Case Study

Personalized learning for every child has been regularly put forward as one of the main keystones when developing the future of education. Via EdTech, the learning path of each student can be personalized and the teacher can adapt the course content to the learning preferences and level of each student.

The i-Learn team is developing an online portal to make these educational tools easily accessible in Flanders (Belgium). This portal is a co-creation between i-Learn and the Flemish schools and teachers: together they want to compose the right set of tools to lift the Flemish educational system to a higher level and into the digital society.

Video interview with Piet Desmet, Head of ITEC

PERSONALIZED LEARNING IN FLEMISH EDUCATION

Our heterogeneous and multicultural society is presenting us with new challenges. This also reflects on the make-up of the Flemish classes and schools which are getting more diverse. As a consequence it’s getting more difficult for teachers to apply one teaching method that fits all students. For example some students might learn faster and need more challenges than others, some students might learn better in group while others learn better alone or just with a friend.

Here EdTech can offer a solution through personalized digital learning. Via EdTech the learning path of each student can be personalized and the teacher can adapt the course content to the learning preferences and level of each student. Although personalized learning for every child has been put forward by the European commission since 2011 as one of the main keystones when developing the future of education, its use was still limited in Flemish education until recently.

The i-Learn program was launched in September 2019 and is supported by the Government of Flanders. In close cooperation with Flemish schools and teachers, the i-Learn team is creating an online portal through which software providers can make their digital applications for personalized learning widely available, offering the teachers the possibility to create a personalized learning path for each student.

The project is expected to provide leverage on three different levels:

  • Professionalization: Schools and teachers will be introduced to and trained for the efficient pedagogical and didactical use of EdTech in their classrooms. 
  • Availability: An online portal is being created to collect and offer all EdTech components in a transparent and uniform way in one central and sustainable location to all Flemish schools, removing possible thresholds.
  • Flemish EdTech field: The scale and nature of this initiative will also boost the growth and professionalization of the Flemish EdTech field and companies.

We want Flanders to be in the lead of the use of personalized learning solutions and to make clear to the whole world to what extent Flanders is able to create learning platforms that do make the difference.

Piet Desmet – Head of ITEC

I-LEARN ONLINE PORTAL

The main ambition of the i-Learn program is to realize a solution and lower the threshold for the use of EdTech for personalized learning across the Flemish educational system. The i-Learn team is therefore creating an online portal through which software providers can make their digital applications for personalized learning widely available and offer the teachers the possibility to create a personalized learning path for each student. The main functions of this portal will be:

  • Personalized digital learning: The platorm brings together applications for different levels, topics, domains and learning profiles. In function of the learning needs of the students, they will then be oriented towards a concrete learning environment and trajectory tailored to their specific needs. There will also be a teacher-driven part on the platform, in which they themselves can compile a conrecte trajectory for their students or classes.
  • Guidance and coaching:  To ensure each teacher makes use of these digital tools in the most effective way and to guarantee a sustainable implementation, the project team also offers guidance and coaching as a vital part of the i-Learn program.

By doing so, the i-Learn program wants to realize a sustainable implementation in at least 10% of the Flemish educational system by September 2022.

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