We talk a lot about personalized “learning.”
But what we’re really saying is personalized “teaching.”
Either the human or the algorithm deduces the gaps and then supplies “personalized” curriculum to fill them. Either way, the student is the object of the personalization. Someone or something else is deciding what the student “learns,” and how it’s assessed.
And we know we’re teaching. We don’t really know if the learner is “learning,” however.*
Whether or not you want to use that technique, or purchase that software, let’s just call it what it is and acknowledge who is doing what in the transaction.
If the object is to move agency over the learning to the learner, to let the learner decide what questions are of interest, and what paths to take to knowledge, that’s truly “personal learning.”
Let’s do more of that if we really believe kids now need to be powerful learners on their own.
(* Unless you define learning as remembering something long enough to pass the assessment.)
Scott K. says
Exceptional post spot on target as Teacher as well as Trainer I have found this to be so egregious to learning outcomes it is ridiculous. Would love to converse sometime Will as feel the synergy in your style of work.
Robert Schuetz says
You make an excellent point. They always say that the pendulum swings. However, I have not seen it happen yet. High stakes testing is not the best solution to students learning and being educated. I hope that one day, students will truly be able to experience true personalized learning. Students should not be forced to learn material in order to pass the state test.
Tim Kubik says
Spot on @willrich45. Can’t be (person)alized unless the person doing the learning has more than a subject’s role. Student agency is critical.
Ashley Augustin says
This post makes an extremely powerful point. I didn’t recognized “personalized learning” until I was college! I am curious to know how one does it on the middle or high school level? I think one way to encourage students to think on this level is to praise students who explore beyond the scope of the course and recognize that ultimately control what they learn and not the teacher.
Kyle Wood says
I think this is an interesting idea in practice, but I’m not sure how successfully it will be applied to students in all contexts. So often I find that low expectations permeate everything that happens in a low-performing school, especially in a high-needs community. In that context, I could imagine “learner-directed learning” not being implemented successfully. What could we do to help build investment and systems around learner-directed learning so that students who are socialized to test-prep toward a state test can be successful in this new atmosphere?
Francine McConville says
This point is well made. I am reminded of A.S. Neill’s Summerhill School which operates according to the belief that school should be made to fit the child. Students take control of their own time, self determine a personal curriculum, and even self govern their community. There is merit to this approach, but at what point must a collective and shared foundation of knowledge and experience intercede? Technology enables a more self directed approach to learning both in and out of school, but some degree of common content and experiences should underpin independent choice if we are to function as a society, communicate effectively and work together productively.
Chris Cerrone says
I like this piece by Alfie Kohn on Personal vs Personalized Learning. Can a computer-based program really “personalize” learning. I do not think so, unless all we want are the basic skills that are mostly assessed by high-stakes testing.