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Is Personalized Education the Best Model For Learning in the Near Future? By Michael G. Sheppard
BEST MODEL FOR
LEARNING IN THE
MICHAEL G. SHEPPARD
Although education constantly evolves with
our culture, primary educational institutions
are sometimes slow to update their models
by incorporating emerging technologies.
There are many forces that explain the
plodding pace of educational reform that
include budgetary, cultural and logistical
forces. Despite resistance, the overwhelming
cultural force that is the technological
revolution has started to influence the
thinking of many facilitators of early
education in the form of a revolutionary
movement: personalized learning.
Personalized learning, or a model of education that utilizes computers to facilitate
self-directed, individualized learning that is tailored to a student’s abilities, ideal
learning method and interests, has gained a great deal of traction.
What possible effects could personalized learning have on students’ education if
Advocates of personalized education believe that the benefits of this approach are
numerous. Students can learn in a way that is best suited to their personal needs,
can interact with the material in a way that takes advantage of their comfort with
technology and can take ownership over their own education in a way that builds
confidence and well-being. Some proponents claim that the fears people have
against personalized education are rooted in outdated bourgeois cultural norms that
fail to address the needs of modern students.
The advantages of self-directed
learning seem obvious, but what
are the possible disadvantages?
Critics claim that a personalized model would
exacerbate the polarization of a culture that is
already fractured. Self-directed learning
amounts to learning in isolation and would
degrade students’ already suffering from social
development. Working to accomplish
educational goals in a group is an important
part of socialization that would be neglected by
this model. While personalized education is
supported by many educators, some teachers
unions fear that implementing it would lead to
replacing educators with computers.
What does the research say?
Where some studies, including the often cited
Gates/RAND report, have shown little evidence
to suggest a marked improvement in student
performance, a more recent study by Education
Elements shows significant progress toward
ACT goals in districts adopting a personalized
education model. More research is needed.
If anything is certain, it’s that our
society is becoming increasingly
computerized. The only question is,
what degree will these new
approaches be implemented, and
will we find a balance between
tested methods and emerging