By; Mehr Parwar Program Officer Education Advocacy
Hashoo Foundation Islamabad
Traditional classroom setting and typical school environment foster limited pace for life- long learning. Teachers in such school setting put their efforts to deliver a set of curriculum and instructions to produce toppers and A+ grade makers. Without knowing a child’s individual needs and learning quest our education system teach the same knowledge and skills to every one which results low progress and lack of productive outcomes in education. Considering this perspective modern education demands personalized learning as more than just a helpful framework for teachers and educators.
Personalized learning is a way of thinking about an innate human quest that each of us is born into and pursues throughout our lifetime. When a child opens his eyes in the world he/she cries to inform the world that I am here and arrived to you. Hear me, feed me, see me, cuddle me, change me, love me and help me (Fogarty, 2016). As children grow, their natural curiosity drives them to get help from others in-order to satisfy their urge to learn. Here a child wants response of his insatiable questions; such as teach me, involve me, read for me, sing to me, hear me and support me to do it by myself. With the passage of time together-with parents, caregivers and teachers the child then correlates him/herself with the world and see how he/she learns and of what it means to learn. The process of learning creates bonds with others soon and the child begins to learn through interaction and discovers the process of social construction. Thus the child starts a lifelong journey of self-discovery with experiments, struggles, risks and success and explores his/her own interests and potentials. Likely he/she then embed values through interacting and socializing with others. This is where personalized learning goes on.
Personalized learning is fundamental to transform education. It is the approach of knowing individual child. It is about finding what background the child comes from? What do his/her parents do? What is the child’ interests? What are his/her strengths and weaknesses? The teacher knows when the child feels happy and where he/she feels happy and to whom he/she feels happy? It is an approach of meeting every individual child and knowing him/her and then celebrating his/her growth. Thus it is child centered, child focused and child celebrated learning approach.
The attention and interest of personalized learning is to facilitate the child individually and help him/her to educate to meet his full potential. Personalized learning takes place both within and outside of the classroom, in the school ground, at home and within any setting. The emphases is on effective interaction and support along with parental involvement. Here strong and meaningful student-teacher and teacher-parent relationships is considered as productive way to guide the child. Personalized learning tailors learning to each students’ strengths, needs and interests having the possibility of voice and choice determining where learning takes place and what resources support learning with how. Technology can be used that enhance well-versed learning if provided in learning context.
Personalized learning is an emerging trend which seeks to support student-centered, 21st century teaching and learning. A growing body of research suggests that overall students’ achievement is likely to increase when they are able to learn at their own pace with a variety of teaching styles. Personalizing education enables them to access a unique learning experience based upon their individual needs, rather than receiving instruction through a standardized curriculum. Here, the needs of students are put first and students are able to direct “how, what, when, and where” they learn.
Personalize learning motivates and empowers students and encourage parents to direct education in the way best fitted to the needs and interests of the children. Teacher seek detailed information about each student, their strengths and weaknesses and how they learn best instead of sitting through lessons and taking tests over material that they already know. The students have more to say that what they have learnt and how they have learnt. Students gain extra support from the teacher individually or in a small group immediately when it is needed, instead of waiting until they are failing a class. Teachers are able to spend more time working with individual students on specific needs and do ongoing assessment to find learning gaps and improve teaching plans instead of moving the whole class together through a standard curriculum. In this way the parents get more accurate picture of what each student knows and about to do instead of just a report card with an A-F letter grade at the end of the each test or exam. Students are not confined to their classroom walls but they get various opportunities to come out and learn in communities. Personalized learning makes all of this possible.