Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Not Sure If I Agree...

I just read this article from NPR Education titled Mark Zuckerberg is Betting Tech Can Address Educational Equity.  Is it that Simple?  

The author asserts that "Personalized learning is a buzzword for software programs that act like automatic tutors:  giving feedback, allowing students to go at their own pace, and recommending lessons based on student's previous work."   What a terribly incorrect statement.  Personalized learning can (and should) point students to resources that spark their interest based on their past work, but aren't necessarily automated or self-paced.

What the author is missing, as well as the folks her contributed comments based on their own studies, is that it is NOT about the technology.  It is about how the tool is used to enhance the teaching and learning environment.  Technology can break down walls and open opportunities that were not possible before.  Take a look at Google's app "Street View" or Google Earth.  Students can virtually go to places they are studying about - almost equivalent to a primary source.

Within the article I do agree with Michael Feldstein who argues that "successfully pulling off personalized learning in schools requires major changes, like grouping students by ability and making class schedules more flexible."

So what is the key ingredient?  Thinking outside the box!  Is the status quo really working?  With the resources now available in most schools, the sky is truly the limit.  School boards and leadership teams need to understand the power that can be leveraged now, be willing to take risks, model best practices, and provide sound and meaningful (and ongoing) professional development.  It is not easy, but some schools have been successful.  There are still a lot of humps to get over.

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