Personalized Learning: The New Paradigm Says Indian Principal - Avnita Bir

Personalized Learning: The New Paradigm Says Indian Principal - Avnita Bir

In 2015, there is an increased focus on the learner. All other aspects of education like technology, curriculum, or instruction will revolve around the learner making learning personal for himself/herself.

The future educational landscape will be about transforming the system because the current system of content delivery and focusing on performance instead of learning is not making positive changes for our children and their future. 2015 is the year to expect stories about change happening in schools.

Schools will have to prove themselves on different set of parameters as the system moves from being teacher-centered to learner-centered. Learners will have to take ownership and drive their own learning. Schools will have to build an educational infrastructure that supports learner-centered environments. Teachers too will have to be given suitable professional development to be able to adapt to the new culture and help sustain the new system. Schools will have to learn to design flexible learning spaces to give learners options to learn and develop 21st century skills of critical thinking, creativity, curiosity and collaboration. Personalized Learning is all about building relationships. The conversations between the teacher and the taught, between the learners themselves, among teachers, between school and teachers and learners, with parents are all about deep learning, access, engagement and expression based on their individual interests and aspirations.

What does this imply for Technology in Education?

The kind of Personalized Learning environment described above will require for schools to rethink and re- strategize the way education is being imparted in their classrooms. It would require teachers to skillfully adapt what they are teaching to their students’ interests and abilities. When it’s not possible to provide a great 1:1 instructor for every learner, technology can be a great enabler. Essentially the following trends will emerge:

  • Rethinking the Identity and Role of Teachers in a Technology-rich Era
  • Building an Ecosystem: shedding inhibitions, experimenting, taking risks, discovering, collaborating, sharing
  • Breaking Myths and Stereotypes about use of Technology in Education

The role of teachers will transform as they integrate technology tools in their teaching. They will become facilitators of learning in the true sense, more collaborative and team players. They will experiment more, reinvent their roles, getting over their fear of technology and taking more risks. Teachers will use technology as an enabler, a productivity tool and not just an ERP solution. This will help them shift their approach and their perspective, as education gets more customized and adaptive. This will redefine teaching as a profession.

Technology giants like Google, Microsoft, Apple etc. will become more aggressive in marketing their applications. There will be multiple adaptive, intelligent online education platforms available for schools to personalize instruction. Online educational content will be created and curated. Blended/flipped learning will become acceptable models in teaching-learning.  The language of video in education will grain ground even as learning anytime, anywhere leaning gains ground and videos provide a great way to personalize and tailor education for specific needs, allowing them to work at whatever pace is best for them. Schools will have to create an ecosystem for teachers to try out, learn and innovate with new delivery models. The traditional style of teacher standing in front of the classroom, giving direct instruction will gradually fade away and replaced with more learning spaces being created in the classrooms with differentiated learning becoming a possible reality.

Some deep-rooted myths about technology will be broken as schools and teachers break the glass ceiling and become more innovation-ready. The first myth is about technology replacing teachers in the classroom. The fact is that teachers today do not feel threatened by technology. On the other hand they feel empowered by productivity tools that make their work more efficient and effective. Technology is in that sense a great motivator. The second myth being that technology will dehumanize education that is essentially about nurturing relationships. In the real world classroom, technology can actually strengthen the bond between the teacher and taught as traditional boundaries of learning give way to more informal networks, role reversals and students and teachers learn from each other building on each other’s capacities.

Some developments educators would look forward to:

  1.      Shift from static educational content to more dynamic adaptive content
  2.      Dynamic educational platforms that will enable customized delivery of content
  3.      Self-learnt new technologies that teachers can use at workplace
  4.      Space for creativity for teachers in planning lessons, assessments, refutation and discussion of concepts
  5.      Data analytics/machine learning enabled feedback to teachers to help personalization of learning

The challenges are unique but when turned upside down, these become our opportunities to think out of the box and creative problem solving. Technology can be a huge leveler. And an equally powerful motivator for teacher empowerment.

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