A few years ago, Personalized Learning was the Holy Grail educators were trying to reach for. Today, it is very much a reality. Personalized Learning programs are considered by many to be one of the major achievements made in the field of education in the last few decades.
What is personalized learning?
According to Wikipedia, Personalized Learning is the tailoring of pedagogy and learning environment, by learners or for learners, to meet their learning needs. In other words, each student’s curriculum will be tailored to suit their pace and capabilities.
The inspiration behind personalized learning is the perceived success of homeschooling. Homeschooled students follow curriculum created just for them, and are widely known to be higher achievers than those who attend schools.
However, it is not possible to allot a personal tutor to every single student in a classroom. Fortunately, digital education has improved by leaps and bounds, with computer programs helping customize education. Educators are firmly of the belief that this will only improve further in the future.
What are the Characteristics of Personalized Learning?
The first and foremost characteristic of Personalized Learning is to help students want to learn. Its core aim is to build in the student a sense of curiosity. The more curious is the student, the more he or she will be likely to interact with texts and media to learn more. The student is encouraged to ask questions– as many as they want, without a frustrated teacher telling them that their questions are stupid.
And personalized learning programs try to incorporate as many learning models as possible to encourage more learning. And what are these models? They include face-to-face interaction with a teacher, eLearning, peer-to-peer learning and so on.
Secondly, students are given a certain amount of power over their learning material. They have, at their disposal, different kinds of materials- tests, texts, video lectures, and assignments and so on. In many personalized learning environments, they have the freedom to choose materials that suit them the best. They can give feedback and reviews to the ones creating their learning material, request for more information, or perhaps different types of presentation.
And thirdly, the way the learners are graded for their work- it is always constructive and informative. Grades here will not be mere numbers or letters but information on where the student is lagging behind, where he or she can use improvement with supplementary material, and tips on how to do so.
Personalized Learning in India
This model of learning is largely unheard of in India. It is still trying to gain traction in more developed countries, and much is left to be done before it becomes possible in Indian classrooms. For one thing, the sheer number of students in Indian classrooms is a detriment to the process of bringing in customized learning. For another, efforts are still being made to bring in formal learning to every part of the nation. Personalized learning, and the time and money required to create these programs are still far away from reality.
But, for those who have a good internet connection and a computer- or access to both- there are online learning portals following personalized learning programs where they can learn any skill they want.