Personalised learning

How would students of last century have fared if their learning was personalised?  It is the question asked by Ta-Nehisi Coates in his article for The Atlantic.

Coates reflects on his own education in Baltimore in the 1980s and the fine line he and so many walked between drop-out and graduate.  As a journalist, able to personalise his work and see the connection to the world, Coates began wondering what schools were doing to make the connection.

The School of One program in the South Bronx is aiming to personalise maths by giving students the opportunity to work on various technologies based on their identified needs.  Lesson plans for each student are generated by School of One’s algorithm after a short test each day; teachers then get them via email.

While I applaud the program for its efforts to improve learning for its students, I believe it runs the risk of assuming that technology is personalised learning.

Using technology to improve test scores may get disadvantaged students through high-school and possibly into college but is there a deep understanding of maths or any subject for that matter?

Coates may not have used a laptop when he was at school but substitute this with a calculator and the experience could be the same.

For me, personalised learning depends wholly on the skill of teachers to know their learners, interpret data, respond to student questions and develop strategies where improvement is seen and learning understood.

Technology cannot assume the responsibilities of a good teacher.

3 thoughts on “Personalised learning

  1. Teaching is a relational journey that involves a partnership. Technology provides a means of relating to students in a different medium that some may find difficult to comprehend. However this is the world we live in and the world we are part of. It is time as leaders in schools to challenge those who do not see education as a relational experience. Leadership is the responsibilty of all of us if we honestly believe it takes a community to educate. As a leader in schools what will you be remembered for?

    1. Peter, leadership is critical in building capacity of teachers. It has to be done in collaboration with teachers not external from it, which is why I like Covey’s video on the execution gap. For me, I believe each school needs its own narrative that guides its pedagogy and planning. Too often, we ignore this step in the process and therefore, end up with several competing narratives ultimately working towards the same goal. At the heart of what all teachers do is building a solid relationship that engenders trust between all learners and when this happens you get powerful learning. One of the great opportunities we have in a connected online world is to build these relationships and trust and of course, it brings a new range of challenges as we know from the media.

  2. I like the recurring themes of collaboration and trust…..not so much that
    I like them as the fact that research, and conventional wisdom enshrine them as basic pillars in any effective organisation.
    How do we move from the rhetoric !


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