"Personalized learning is not individualized learning, in which students share the same learning goals but progress through the curriculum at their own pace. Nor is it differentiated instruction, in which students also share learning goals but receive instruction that is tailored to their learning needs.
Personalized learning is an instructional approach that encompasses both differentiation and individualization, but is also flexible in content or theme to match the specific interests and prior experiences of learners."
Personalized learning really takes into consideration that long tail of interest, of prior motivation, of languages. It leverages all the different things that people have in their repertoire to add value to their learning. In any personalized learning model, the student - not the teacher - is the central figure." Karen Cator
But what does personalized learning actually look like? feel like?
Well, on Saturday January 14th I participated in a personalized learning experience at Edcamp Delta.
- There is no keynote speaker and no set topics.
- Participants propose discussion topics leading up to and in person on the morning of the event.
- Participants vote for topics that interest them and based on the popularity of the respective topics, the organizers arrange the discussion topics within a grid and create a schedule for the day.
- Participants choose to participate in sessions they are most interested in.
- One or more participants step forward to initiate the conversations in each session.
- Participants share ideas, perspectives and experiences with each other. They respond to each other's questions and queries.
- Participants arrive with different goals for the day. Some wish to network, others want to share ideas about specific topics and some want to ask questions.
- The content is flexible and participants choose discussion topics based on their specific interests and prior experiences.
- Each participant contributes and adds value to the other participants' learning.
- Face-to-face and backchannel conversations take place within each session but participants may choose to extend their conversations throughout the day.
- There is an absence of hierarchy. There is no 'teacher', no 'expert' and no passive attendees trying to soak up information being delivered by the 'guru' in the room. All participants are learners, helping one another.
Imagine how the notion of school might change if learners had the choice to investigate self-directed inquiry topics based on their curiosity and interests?
Imagine if learners shared questions and problems with their local and global network and challenged each other to think critically and be creative problem-solvers.
Imagine if learning was made more social, with more emphasis on learning together, where learners communicated, cooperated and collaborated in an effort to build shared knowledge and understanding?
Undoubtedly, this would lead to more questions about our current model of 'schooling'.