As an educationist and a passionate teacher, I have often tried to circumvent the problem of “one size fits all.” In a classroom of diverse nature, individualization and educator driven curricula does not cater to unique needs of the learner.
The hallmark of personalized learning involves tailored curriculum and pedagogy according to the learner’s interests and addresses lacunae in learning, meeting their different learning needs and aspirations. Typically technology is used to facilitate personalized learning environments and the tutor has a key role to play.
At this point it is important to understand the difference between individualization and personalization the two are sometimes synonymously used, but in reality have different pedagogical meanings. Individualization is typically found in a class room setting where all students master the same learning objectives lead by the teacher. In personalization the student has a very important role to play and often drives the learning process. Personalization aims at addressing the unique needs of the student considering cognitive abilities, aptitudes, talents and competencies. The learner is an active participant and a co-creator of the learning pathway and environment.
Traditional learning environments like schools and colleges do sometimes support personalized learning. Personalized learning can happen in small groups in partnership with other learners. However, advancements in technology leading to disappearance of geographical barriers especially in an online or “flipped” learning environment influence and support personalized learning powerfully.
ICT allows learners access to information, provides a medium for communication and debate and also recording and playback of these interactive sessions. Complex concepts can be explained in a simple and easy to comprehend way leading to bridging of cognitive lacunae. “Custom made” tutorial solutions can make a big difference to enhance the personalized learning experience online.
Personalized learning addresses the cognitive, emotive and social dimensions of a student, empowering awareness of the learning process, increasing self-regulation and self-evaluation, both critical attributes for any successful student.
Co-designing and participation can be a teaching and a learning experience for both the learner and the teacher. The ever growing and ever evolving needs of the learner, makes the individualization process an “old class room” approach and personalization as a “neo-age” pedagogy.