Yesterday, I was touched by Mark Zuckerberg's letter to his new daughter, about his hopes for personalized learning experience for his daughter and her generation. To read more about his letter, click here.
Personalized learning in general is seen as an alternative to so-called “one size fits all” approaches to teaching in which teachers may, for instance, offer all students in a given course with the same type of instruction, the same homework, and the same evaluation. Personalized learning may also be called student-centered learning, given that the general objective is to make individual learning needs the prime concern in important educational and instructional decisions, rather than what might be preferred, more convenient, or logistically easier for teachers and schools.
Maria Montessori was a forerunner of student-centered learning, where children learn through independent self-directed interaction with formerly presented activities. After more than one hundred years, Montessori education is still one of the most comprehensive models of personalized learning. Montessori classrooms can be disorienting for the inexperienced. In Montessori classes around the world, different kinds of activities occur simultaneously spanning several subjects. Students are sprawled across the classroom working individually, in pairs, or in small groups to complete practical, self-directed activities. It is this “freedom within structure” that allows personalized learning, encourage student independence and focus on child development well beyond academics.
Personalized learning is intended to smooth the academic progress of each student by first determining the learning needs, interests, and aspirations of individual students, and then offering learning experiences that are customized to a greater or lesser extent for each student. To achieve this goal, the Montessori experience centers on a daily 3 hours working period where every child progresses through a customized work-plan of activities and tasks. Students might work together if they have common assignments, but the idea is that students are working at their level in each academic subject.
Principal of Al Shorooq Preschool