It has been an exciting year for personalized education.
I think there is broad agreement that education is more effective as it focuses on the personal strengths, weaknesses and goals of individuals. One thing that has always gotten in the way of pursuing personalization is a belief that, although it would be good, it is simply mathematically impossible – i.e. “how long would it take for me to personalize anything for the 200+ students I see every day?”
That argument is no longer viable. There is a growing recognition that new educational approaches enabled by technology and fueled by data are beginning to make personalization scale on a level that was not possible in the past. Today the front line of personalization rests with teachers, counselors and administrators. Next will be the students themselves as they look to play an integral role in identifying, tracking and fulfilling their individual goals.
Personalization is getting a boost from various initiatives throughout education. In early July, the United States Department of Education announced the MyData Initiative as an effort to provide students with access to their own educational data from each of the providers of education services, including PK-12 schools, testing companies, universities and more. The objective of this initiative is to allow students to collect and manage all the data about their own education in a way that provides them with the ability to take control of their success throughout their educational career. Please take a look at http://ed.gov/edblogs/technology/mydata/ .
To kick this initiative off, a few weeks ago in Washington D.C., the U.S. DOE hosted “Education Data,” a gathering of industry leaders. There representing eScholar, I had the opportunity to both speak at and participate in the event. My takeaway was that the powerful marketing approach along with a straightforward technical approach could drive a level of openness and interoperability that has been sorely lacking in the education marketplace.
The Federal government has also announced its intention to support the personalization of education through the proposed Race To The Top District competition http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop-district/index.html. This initiative could provide needed resources to demonstrate some of the promising work being done in districts across the country.
I believe the wind might finally be at our backs on this important initiative. I also think the continued improvement in technology, electronic content and data systems will keep us moving in a direction where education will engage each of us in the most effective way.
I look forward to hearing your thoughts.