Many in the ed-tech field see new technologies as powerful tools to help schools meet the needs of ever-more-diverse student populations. The idea is that digital devices, software, and learning platforms offer a once-unimaginable array of options for tailoring education to each individual student’s academic strengths and weaknesses, interests and motivations, personal preferences, and optimal pace of learning.
iCoachU have crafted a definition of “personalised learning” that rests on four pillars:
- Each student should have a “learner profile” that documents his or her strengths, weaknesses, preferences, and goals
- Each student should pursue an individualised learning path that encourages him or her to set and manage personal academic goals.
- Students should follow a “competency-based progression” that focuses on their ability to demonstrate mastery of a topic, rather than seat time.
- Students’ learning environments should be flexible and structured in ways that support their individual goals.
Learning management systems, student information systems, and other software are also used to distribute assignments, manage schedules and communications, and track student progress.
Educational software and applications have grown more “adaptive,” relying on technology and algorithms to determine not only what a student knows, but what his or her learning process is, and even his or her emotional state.
For all the technological progress, though, implementation remains a major challenge. Schools and educators across the world continue to wrestle with the changing role of teachers, how to balance flexible and “personalised” models with the accountability requirements, and the deeper cultural challenge of changing educators’ long-standing habits and routines.
Despite the massive investments that many school systems are making, the evidence that digital personalised learning can improve student outcomes or narrow achievement gaps at scale remains scattered, at best.