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.