Tech-enabled personalised learning

Personalised ICTI've just been browing a new report A new report tiled "Technology-Enabled Personalized Learning: Findings and Recommendations to Accelerate Implementation," from the US. The report is based on the recommendations and observations of over 100 educators who gathered last year for the TEPL summit at North Carolina State University's Friday Institute for Educational Innovation. It summarises advice and insight on how to use technology to facilitate personalized learning, and seeks to help users work towards goals based around: data, content and curriculum, technology architecture, research and development, and human capacity.

It's always interesting to read this sort of document, particularly as it has been developed through the collaborative activity of practitioners. While there are a number of references to specific technololgies such as student data projection, student ownership of devices and calls for the development of technology standards, it's interesting to not an emphasis also on more professional development as the role of the teacher shifts from presenter of knowledge to facilitator/coach/guide

The link between the pedagogical construct of 'personalised learning' and the role of technology is something that needs much more discourse among educators. There has been a lot of use of the idea of personalising learning as a justification of pursuing 1-1 and BYOD programmes, but too often, it's nothing more than a 'smokescreen' attempting to provide a pedagogical rationale for a technological imperative – and too often also, the learner centred pedagogy turns out to be based purely on the assumption that a personally owned device will provie a more personalised experience of the 'delivery' of content. 

The document offers this explanation of personalisation:

Personalized learning is not simply about differentiating the method or approach of instruction or about individualizing the pace of learning. Personalized learning further seeks to empower the learner to shape what, how, and when they learn, thus engaging them through their explicit and implicit choices. Authentic implementation of personalized learning requires fundamental redesign of the school structure and of the role of teachers.

This appeals to me – it suggests more than a personalised delivery experience – and gets more to the point of learner agency. This is a key affordance of technology – empowering and enabling learners to have choices about what and how they learn, and the power to act on those choices in ways that are relevant and meaningful to them.

The document also states…

Personalization is necessary for educational equity. Educational equity is not simply about equal access and inputs, but ensuring that a student’s educational path, curriculum, instruction, and schedule be designed to meet her unique needs, inside and outside of school.

With this level of understanding of personalisation we can begin to consider the contribution that technology can make in quite different ways. 

The report goes on to identify specific challenge areas and ways in which technology can support and enhance personalised approaches. There are some useful ideas and recommendations, supported by case studies and descriptions in this report – all of which will help prompt further thinking in your own context. 

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