Learning in the 21st Century: Passion and Personalization
In June, I attended the annual conference of the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) with several of my DSC colleagues. Whether attending a workshop, lecture, or keynote session, we heard two words time and time again—passion and personalization. I thought I knew what these terms meant and how they might apply to learning, but began to question my understanding, especially of the latter term.
Individualization, differentiation, and personalization have become buzzwords in education, but little agreement exists on what exactly they mean beyond the broad concept that each is an alternative to the one-size-fits-all model of teaching and learning. For example, some education professionals use personalization to mean that students are given the choice of what and how they learn according to their interests, and others use it to suggest that instruction is paced differently for different students….[W]e use the following definitions:Individualization refers to instruction that is paced to the learning needs of different learners. Learning goals are the same for all students, but students can progress through the material at different speeds according to their learning needs. For example, students might take longer to progress through a given topic, skip topics that cover information they already know, or repeat topics they need more help on.Differentiation refers to instruction that is tailored to the learning preferences of different learners. Learning goals are the same for all students, but the method or approach of instruction varies according to the preferences of each student or what research has found works best for students like them.Personalization refers to instruction that is paced to learning needs, tailored to learning preferences, and tailored to the specific interests of different learners. In an environment that is fully personalized, the learning objectives and content as well as the method and pace may all vary (so personalization encompasses differentiation and individualization).
- Are the terms personalization and passion part of the discussion about learning and teaching in your school or district?
- How does your school or district define individualization, differentiation, and personalization?
- Have you moved toward personalizing learning in your classroom? If so, what does that look like? What have you learned? What have been your challenges?
- How has technology helped with this effort?