It’s a silly distinction to make, I know, objecting to “personalize learning,” as a term for describing the current flavor-of-the-week in education reform/transformation conversation, preferring instead, “personal learning,” .
As an advocate, I cannot fault the use of either label for student learning that is personal, needs-based, unconfined and empowered by personal passions and skills. That’s my immodestly paltry characterization that fits both terms.
I could, if I thought it would be the least bit helpful, call attention to semantics, suggesting that one is a verb, “..produce (something) to meet someone’s individual requirements..”, and the other an adjective, “..belonging to a particular person..”
|But I guess what disturbs me the most and prevents me from letting go of this argument is that one can be
- and marketed
to superintendents and legislators,
The other liberates learning.
This is one of those blog posts intended to help me shape my own thoughts – and asks you, “How close I am to the real world of teaching and learning?”
With nearly four decades of experience in education, I’ve seen initiatives and memes come and go, pumped up and deflated by the hot and cold air of the education conversation. None of it, quite frankly, has had much effect on my personal philosophies of education – and I suspect the same can be said for many of you. Hopefully, we’ve simply become better at voicing those philosophies.
So this morning, I’d like to explore what appears to me to be a passing of conversational energy (hot air) from the term, individualized instruction to personalized learning. This shift can be seen with a Google Trends analysis, comparing the number of searches of both phrases from 2005 to 2013 and projected beyond.
The concepts, in my mind, are quite different. However, in practice, I fear that they could be implemented in the same way. Personalized learning, in essence, is a life-long practice, as it is for you and me, as we live and learn independent of teachers, textbooks, and learning standards. Individualized instruction is more contained.
So here is a little more breakdown, as I see it, of the differences between personalized learning and individual instruction – acknowledging that this is not strictly an either/or proposition. Please comment your thoughts.
||Planned & implemented instructional strategies based on knowledge of best practices and analysis of individual student readiness, learning styles and areas of interest.
||Learner devised learning activities based on reflection and conversations with teachers and other stakeholders, and a resourceful use of a growing knowledge of resources and personal learning strategies.
|Literacy Becomes a..
||..mastery of a defined scope and sequence of institutionally established reading and writing skills — in addition to numeracy
||..wide range of evolving information skills developed around the activities of learning – the ability to acquire knowledge and skills through the resourceful and responsible utilization of information.
||Use data that provides a description of individual students’ proficiencies in order to select best practice strategies that help each student to master competencies defined by established standards.
- Create, craft and maintain a learning environment where learners are free to safely and effectively pursue personal interests.
- Guide learning experiences in order to maintain a healthy and comprehensive environmental and societal context that nurtures knowledgable, resourceful and caring citizens.
- Assist learners in developing and refining personal learning literacies and habits.
| Student’s Role
||Pay attention to the teacher, follow instructions, remember and perform.
||Pay attention to the world, consult with the teacher (and others), identify and pursue emerging areas of interest, resourcefully learn and produce from that learning.
||A rich set of institutionally and politically established competencies that are founded on basic literacies and that can be tested, measured and converted into data that is optimally available to teachers for refining instruction.
||A much more shallow framework of competencies, founded on learning literacies, and demonstrated through original, compelling and valuable published or constructed works.
||Literate and knowledgeable performers.
||Skilled, knowledgeable, curious, compassionate, wise and engaged life-long learners.
|| Education is done to the student
||Education happens as a result of what the learner does.
What do you think?