Every now and then there is a new buzzword in the education industry but the one topic that refuses to fizzle out is “Personalized learning/education” and how we can achieve this. It is one of the most popular terms in education. As per Wikipedia, ”Personalized learning is the tailoring of pedagogy, curriculum and learning environments by learners or for learners in order to meet their different learning needs and aspirations. Typically technology is used to facilitate personalized learning environments.”
There are several articles published on this topic since many educators and others are trying to create a clearer definition of what qualifies as “personalized learning”. The International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL) and several groups of organizations created a “working definition of personalized learning.”
Working for a company which prides itself on being a pioneer in personalized learning has given me an opportunity to have a better understanding of the benefits and challenges in adopting and implementing it. I believe there are three core enablers to achieve the goal of personal learning:
- Availability of searchable digital resources (e.g., learning materials, assessments, toolkits)
- Ability to analyze available information about the students and his/her needs and apply appropriate strategies, assign resource and provide monitoring capabilities.
- Easy access to digital devices
More and more teachers are now turning to digital resources to aid their teaching, it is not a coincidence that my 10 year old comes home with a list of URLs to learn more about the topics being discussed in her classroom. This is perhaps her first step towards personalized learning. Although still in its nascent stages, the digital learning resources are now being tagged for easy searching. A lot of efforts are being made in this direction. Learning Resource Metadata Initiative (LRMI) and Learning registry are just a few examples of how industry is seeing this as an important link towards channelizing the right recourses for specific needs. If this is done right, students like my daughter will no longer be dependent or restricted to the URLs provided by their teachers but will have more control over the material they would like to access.
This looks promising but it seems to be missing one big piece. Students and teachers are not always equipped with the understanding of what it is that they really need to work on or what kind of resources to look for. So it is great that there are more and more searchable recourses available but how do they know what to search for?
Fortunately, analytical dashboard such as eScholar myTrack® is a step in that direction to provide a better understanding of students, their unique needs, deficiencies, and possible areas of improvement based on a comprehensive view of information. Educators and students can use myTrack to create strategies helping students reaching their potential.
As the availability of searchable digital resources increase, it will enrich the capabilities of such analytical platforms. It will help to build personalize learning pathways by assigning the relevant learning resources, toolkits and on-going tracking/feedback mechanisms.
Having access to these personalized learning pathways is essential for achieving the goal of personalize learning. The innovation in digital devices is increasing the capability of these devices and making them more affordable for each individual student. The easy access to these devices has tremendously increased the pace of adoption of tools available to the teachers and students.