Personalized Learning is the new meme for education. Educators see it as the future in learning and are making efforts to employ its process into the public school system because they see the benefits it affords. It fits today's students and applies principles of diversity, ascribing dignity and opportunity to each person. A few of the benefits include:
Students receive more instruction. Student/Teacher ratios are much smaller. Rather than 25:1 or more, they are typically 8:1 or even less. Individual attention to each student at the level they are at, rather than the level the program determines, allows for individual instruction.
Students have voice and choice. Dignity and worthwhileness is given to each student because they are listened to and heard. Their unique needs and learning styles are honored and a customized learning path can be implemented.
Individual levels are monitored by students and parents who can see their advancement through each level and skill attained. Learning is encouraged because progress is frequent and is easily monitored. Students are affirmed at each step and receive immediate feedback whether a skill mastered or needs more study.
There is equity for all. Each student individually receives what they need because they have a significant role in setting their own learning path. The pace of learning and the learning environment are determined by the student rather than the system. This enhances learning and allows students to thrive.
Each student lives in the culture of learning. When students together can learn at their own their pace, at whatever level they are at, in the environment they choose and in their own personal style, the culture becomes a culture of learning rather than the sense of wandering and irrelevancy.
Mastery-based advancement. Each student advances when they have mastered the skills needed to move to the next level. Because of real time feedback they progress as they are able. They are not moved along because the system tells them to move along. Each student has whatever time is necessary to complete the skill they are working to master.
Competency-based learning. Students are not merely memorizing facts, but become skilled in what they learn because they are used to complete projects within their own interests and passions. In other words, learning goes past being able to fill in blanks, but must include competent, practical use of the skills that have been mastered. That is competency-based learning.
Assessment is customized to the student. A student's progress is assessed by the pace they set and are able to learn. There is no arbitrariness. The standard is the student and progress is accountable to the parents and guardians.
The benefits of Personalized Learning are many. It is a process of education that reestablishes our mandate that schools are here for the sake of students, their future, and the benefit of our nation. But there are insurmountable barriers to implementing Personalized Learning within our current public school system. The words of Personalized Learning can be used but the practice can not be established. It is the same issue as mastery without competency. The public system can use the vocabulary of Personalized Learning and recite a list of its ideas and benefits, but it cannot be competent in its implementation because it is restrained by standardized curriculum, a predetermined pace of learning, a standardized system of testing, a lack of connection of learning to life, class sizes, the necessity to group students, inability to fill past learning gaps, and the list goes on. The current system cannot provide the benefits of Personalized Learning.
It is obvious why educators want to insert Personalized Learning into the corporate public school process. They should. But, since it is designed to be used in the education of each student, individually, with a unique learning path and profile, it will be more beneficial for students if it is used in a vastly different environment than the current corporate approach. But in the right environment, a smaller environment, its benefits will better meet the needs of young people, all of whom are facing a very uncertain future.