Why schools should upshift to Personalized Learning

If you’re in education you’ve heard how the ‘industrial’ model of teaching is passe, but we as we all know, we still practice it in classrooms designed for a world where mass production worked.

Ken Robinson (that’s Sir Ken), who has worked on projects in Asia, Europe and the US, once said that “education and training are the keys to the future,” but the “key can be turned in two directions. Turn it one way and you lock resources away…Turn it the other way and you release resources and give people back to themselves.”

With that as a backdrop consider a report on the Future of Learning by the European Commission’s JRC (Joint Research Center) in 2011. It mapped where Europe was headed (this was before it plunged into a recession) and mapped out three learning patterns essential to education, with the evolution of information and Communication technologies.

It said that the core of education needs to incorporate Personalization, Collaboration, and Informalization.

Indeed, it said that mathematical, verbal, scientific and digital literacy would be at the core of these trends but by creating these three movements, its citizens would become more competitive.

I am fascinated by the one trajectory of Personalization. Every class is composed of students at different interest and learning capacities, yet we have incentives and consequences for those who do not fit into one set of expectations. The JRC report calls for a mix of different technologies that support personalization.

I see a slew of technologies that might open these doors, but schools are typically technologically poor, and textbook rich. There has been some movement here in the US for personalized lesson plans, as evidenced by Big Picture Learning schools. But it’s not just the classroom needs to be redesigned, but possibly the school itself. Right now, with such limited funding for education, we are more or less in lock-down mode. Personalized learning will remain a nice-to-have discussed at highfalutin symposia and journals.

I can’t stop thinking of Sir Ken’s admonition: Turn the key the other way and you could release knowledge…



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