April 16, 2014

Personalized Learning is the Future of Education - Case Study

It is now widely acknowledged that personalized learning will be an essential part of any new model that is adopted to significantly improve the current education system, from K-12 to higher education. This approach acknowledges that every student is unique in terms of his/her capabilities (strengths and weaknesses), likings and dis-likings, and pace at which he/she grasps different concepts. However, our current education system uses the same cookie-cutter approach for the entire class. Students are classified as "weak" in a subject, many times incorrectly, if they fail to finish a subject material within stipulated time and pass all tests. The reason a student may be learning slow may have nothing to do with his/her capability for that particular subject. He/she may not like the teaching style of the teacher. He/she may lack a necessary skill which students need to master from an earlier class, which he/she did not fully grasped for some reason (fallen sick, etc).  

Limitations in the current education system however restricts teachers and schools from tailoring subjects for each student. Finally, technology and Internet is coming to the rescue.  Progressive schools need to not just adopt online education tools but also train teachers and demonstrate required flexibility in teaching approaches.

I recently came across a fantastic case study. The Taylor County School District in Campbellsville, Kentucky has managed to bring their student dropout rate to zero for five years in running by using personalized learning.  They work with students one-on-one and prepare for each student an Individualized Learning Plan tailored to that student's interests and desired career path.  They offer real-world experience to students though partnerships with local businesses. This allows students to establish whether their initial interest in a field is strong enough for them to purse that field for college after high-school. Finally, teachers are using technology to more efficiently teach and evaluate students. Teachers are challenged to constantly find best practices to meet the needs of all learning styles.

The full case study by Roger Cook, the Superintendent of the Taylor County School District, is here

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