A View From The Wood

Shifting the Paradigm with Personalized Learning

Telos CEO John Wood
A quality education system is the key to economic success, regardless of country, state or region.  As the CEO of an IT security company, I understand that a strong education system, particularl
y in the STEM disciplines, is not only crucial to a thriving economy, but also to our national security. 
 
I believe there is a shift in the way our country is beginning to view education. The traditional, standardized education system is being challenged by the notion of student-centric, personalized education. Let me explain.
 
Personalized education would require that each student within a classroom would work toward essential comprehension and skill-sets (like our current system), but would be given the option of different content, processes, and products to achieve those objectives. Students, teachers, and parents would regularly monitor and maintain specific objectives to help the student achieve those comprehension and skill-set goals. School of One is a pioneer in this emerging field of personalized education.
 
In a challenging and engaging, student-centric environment, students would be given the opportunity to learn at their own pace, with the use of 21st century technologies. Take the Khan Academy, for instance. Khan Academy has an online portfolio of hundreds of free math and science lessons using YouTube videos as its medium. Some teachers around the country have used the Khan Academy videos to flip the classroom on its head; video lessons are watched at home, at the child's pace-with the ability to pause, repeat, review, etc.-and the Q&A sessions occur in the classroom.  By removing the ‘one-size fits all' lecture approach from the classroom and allowing the children to use the video content at their own pace, the classroom becomes a place to work through problems, ask questions to understand why the math or science works that way. This new learning environment fosters more interaction among peers and between the student and teacher.
 
Of course the Khan Academy is only one example. Regardless of medium, continued teacher training would be an essential component of a successful shift towards student-centric learning. A personalized learning focused curriculum would force teachers out of their comfort zones, by moving away from their traditional lesson plan and toward the new tools and strategies of a personalized learning environment.   Instructors would learn to leverage technology to play an active role in the delivery of instruction.
 
When executed correctly, personalized learning holds the student, teachers, school administration, and parents accountable for the student's education, by requiring active participation from everyone. That heightened accountability will result in all parties taking more ownership in the student's education.  More participation, accountability and ownership will foster greater education outcomes for our region and our country.
 
To read more about my take on personalized learning, visit my blog in Loudoun Business:  A Business Perspective

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