Shouldn’t Personalized Learning Be Personal?

The Connected Learning Model is one that’s a bit more simple than it sounds.

Cultural anthropologist Mimi Ito, research director of the Digital Media and Learning Research Hub, is interested in this model because, among other reasons, how it can tap the power of the individuals in learning.

Not crowds, but individuals.

And then connecting them together endlessly so that, pairing by pairing, learners leapfrog content acquisition, and truly develop the capacity to actually learn.

Ito explains, “The march of the formal education curriculum is at a very different pace from how kids’ interest develop, and the ways in which they need to explore, and develop their interest that are based on their own choices about what they want to look at and what they want to learn. And so if you have a system that’s telling kids exactly what to do, and how to pace it, that doesn’t value exploration or self-initiated inquiry, then you’re not building in kids the capacity to make effective choices themselves, about how to learn.”

The ability to make choices–about who to connect with, how to access data, how to prioritize learning, and the most effective ways to evaluate information–is a key theme of modern learning. Self-directed learning not only decenters teachers and institutions but gives learning a chance to resonate with students.

Ito continues, “The problem is not how do you package it and deliver it; the problem is effective match-making. So, how does a kid find that mentor or that peer who is going to introduce them or support them in developing their interest, making their interest relevant, developing a sense of purpose?”

And that sense of purpose isn’t simply for ‘engagement,’ but rather melts away old workflows and artificial barriers that have inhibited learning, stifling curiosity and creativity for ages. For this to move beyond rhetoric requires not will, or even mere technology, but rather authentic connections between students, their peers, and experts in local and global communities.

“It’s not about actually finding the information anymore. So, I think the model we’re trying to develop with connected learning is to say, how can we use the capacity of these network resources, these social connections, to bring people together that want to learn together.”

This sort of change would suggest that classrooms don’t have to be merely rooms to host involuntary peer sets as they collectively trudge through standardized content.

What happens when learning centers on individuals, then, isn’t a matter of differentiation or personalized learning–personalizing pre-packaged content–or some other adult-ification of learning, but something more substantial.

A chance to see learning that has truly become personal?

You can find the video here.