Should Personalization Be the Future of Learning? asks Education Next.
Ben Riley questions whether students will learn more if they have control over what they learn and when and how quickly they learn it.
Effective instruction requires understanding the varying cognitive abilities of students and finding ways to impart knowledge in light of that variation. If you want to call that “personalization,” fine, but we might also just call it “good teaching.” And good teaching can be done in classrooms with students sitting in desks in rows, holding pencil and paper, or it can be done in classrooms with students sitting in beanbags holding iPads and Chromebooks. Whatever the learning environment, the teacher should be responsible for the core delivery of instruction.
Technology can help teachers teach well, Riley writes. For example, “using a tablet with a screencasting app, teachers can record their students grappling with a problem and reflect on what led to their understanding (or failure to understand).”
In addition, technology can provide “almost real-time data on student learning that can be quickly analyzed and acted upon.”
But he’s seen technology-rich, learning-poor classrooms where students write “essays on Baconian science with texts about the 20th-century British artist Francis Bacon and on the problems that Martin Luther King had with Pope Leo X and Holy Roman Emperor Charles V.”
“Teachers are best positioned to lead cognitively challenging activities like Socratic seminars, deep reading, and math talk,” responds Alex Hernandez. “Personalized learning environments are better suited to teach basic skills and background knowledge than to teach critical thinking.”
Students can spend part of the day using technology to develop basic skills and background knowledge, he writes. That will free teachers to create “challenging tasks and compelling experiences.Teachers should be in the business of creating ‘aha’ moments for children, not figuring out seven different math lessons for 25 different students.”