Tonight (Thursday, March 12) I will be hosting the #TechTeamMA twitter chat. If you are interested in participating, head to my twitter account (@cathoyt_) between 8:00pm and 9:00pm. The topic is discussing the differences between individualized and personalized learning. This topic is relatively confusing so I thought it would be smart to provide some background information for chat participants to look over before the chat began.
Recently three articles have been brought to my attention. The first being The Washington Post’s article titled “Four reasons to seriously worry about ‘personalized learning.’” The second being Education Week’s article titled “What Is ‘Personalized Learning’? Educators Seek Clarity.” And the third, and possibly the most clear being Mind Shift’s article titled “What Do We Really Mean When We Say ‘Personalized Learning.'” Read through those if you want to see the full inspiration for this talk, but I’ll summarize. Basically, individualized learning is when teachers are given the option to review test scores, previous work of students, etc and base their curriculum for the year off of what they perceive from these past scores and projects to be their intelligence level. Intentionally or otherwise, this is how most classrooms today are structured. The recognition of the use of individualized learning brings about obvious questions of morality. Is it right for teachers to be allowed access to past performances and base the way in which they are taught and the level they are taught at off this entirely? In my opinion, no.
Personalized learning is the other option. Personalized learning gives students the power and the freedom to structure the class and the work they create in the class around their specific interests, passions and desires. This makes teaching more difficult for the teacher as they have to be accepting of a variety of different projects on one specific topic but it also makes learning more rewarding for the student because students have the freedom to convey information and complete assignments using tools that they are comfortable with or interested in exploring, and by default students often learn more. Education Week suggests that technology is one of the greatest ways to achieve this goal, because it provides students with virtually (ha, get it?) unlimited resources with which they can work with.
A student tech team is the epitome of a class structured around student-choice and personalized learning and during tonight’s chat we hear from members of these teams and hopefully dive more deeply into the many benefits of classes structured around the passions of the student.