[Skip to Content]
News Story

Personalized Learning: The Latest Fad or Here to Stay?

Posted on 11/30/2018

Man pointing at a laptobp

According to a recent survey by the news service Center for Digital Education, personalized learning is currently the No. 1 educational technology priority around the country. In the article “The Future of Learning? Well, It’s Personal,” Anya Kamenetz presents two ideas about what personalized learning is:

  • At your own pace – The use of software to allow each student to work through a pre-determined body of knowledge at her or his own pace.
  • Personalize it all – An entirely new way of doing school, centered around student goal-setting and not necessarily focused on technology. Students work independently as well as with other students on projects, and teachers act more as facilitators and work with students one-on-one rather than focusing on direct instruction.

We already see a good amount of personalized “at your own pace” learning with students working in programs like Khan Academy and those that help students complete credit recovery. In Putnam County (Tennessee) schools, Canvas is the learning management system and a mix of Shmoop, Edgenuity, MATHia, and IXL round out the personalized learning program that the schools offer students. The main advantage is that each student can work at their own pace to complete their work, independent of other learners. Critics, though, point out that there is little to no collaborative work among students which would provide its own learning opportunities, and there is very little room for creativity, curiosity, and creative problem-solving, skills that are required for 21st century work and further study.

The other concept of personalized learning is to personalize it all, a radical departure from traditional schooling. A good deal of money is going into this, from big funders such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. It’s trying to turn the motivation and responsibility for learning over to students and move teachers into a very different role as facilitators, from “sage on the stage” to “guide on the side.” For the few schools that have been at it for a while, there is a palpable excitement among students, teachers, and families for this new model. It is, however, proving to be a difficult model to implement without enough supports for teachers. Teachers need to learn how to transition from guiding a class full of students through a common enterprise to now managing a class full of students each working at their own pace, with the right mix of independence and collaboration.

Time will tell whether personalized learning, with or without technology, is here to stay.

Source: The future of learning? Well, it's personal External link opens in new window or tab

Source: 5 edtech tools that take personalized learning to the next level External link opens in new window or tab