By: Renaissance US team
“Personalised learning refers to instruction in which the pace of learning and the instructional approach are optimised for the needs of each learner. Learning objectives, instructional approaches, and instructional content (and its sequencing) all may vary based on learner needs. In addition, learning activities are meaningful and relevant to learners, driven by their interests, and often self-initiated.”
(U.S. Department of Education, 2016)
For personalised learning to be successful, it needs to consist of three essential elements:
Personalisation, individualisation, and differentiation all overlap in the minds of many. Richard Culatta, an educational leader, extends upon this by stating that individualised learning is “learning experiences in which the pace of learning is adjusted to meet the needs of individual students, focusing on the ‘when’ of personalised learning” while differentiated learning is “learning experiences in which the approach or method of learning is adjusted to meet the needs of individual students, focusing on the ‘how’ of personalised learning,” (Culatta, 2016).
The American education system often takes a one-size-fits-all approach which some refer to as a factory model. Students move from one grade to the next, a teacher covers several topics and lessons, students are tested on what they’ve retained, and either move on to the next grade or repeat the course until they graduate. Ken Robinson refers to this in his TED talk and says, “much like the fast food industry, everything in education is standardised,” (Robinson, 2010). This model is efficient but doesn’t address individual needs, and can place students in a passive learning state. Personalised learning is an attempt to optimise learning for each student, giving them the best chance to do well, and shifting them into an active role in their education.
Ultimately, personalised learning is about changing from a historical factory model because the demands of the world have changed. When the factory model was introduced, the need was more high school graduates. Today’s highly connected global society demands even more and the assertion is that these demands can only be met through personalising learning to optimise their achievement.
Culatta, R. (2016) What Are You Talking About?! The Need for Common Language around Personalized Learning. Retrieved from: http://er.educause.edu/articles/2016/3/what-are-you-talking-about-the-need-for-common-language-around-personalized-learning
Kerns, Gene. (2016) How can we make sense of personalized learning? Renaissance. Retrieved from: https://www.renaissance.com/2016/11/23/how-can-we-make-sense-of-personalized-learning/
Robinson, Ken. (2010) Bring on the learning revolution! TED. Retrieved from: https://www.ted.com/talks/sir_ken_robinson_bring_on_the_revolution