For week 3 of An Introduction to Open Education, I read, My Personalized Learning Experience (Week Three), after being prompted to do so from a recent Twitter exchange:
Personalized Learning, Differentiated Instruction, and Open Licensing
I have always been interested in how others see personalized learning and differentiated instruction in combatting “traditional” teaching methods. Lifeexamined22’s post does not mention differentiated instruction, but instead addresses “personalized learning” - as a reflective process - which I would like to follow up on here. I have spoken about the notion of “personalized learning” on prior occasions.
Why am I shifting away from traditional education and towards personalized learning?
Moving away from a traditional education is, generally speaking, a good thing... I’m just not sure how “personalized” this process ends up becoming simply by giving students choices in how they engage in their own learning trajectory. Teachers may employ a teaching approach that allows learners to choose between content, process, product, and/or environment, but the actions learners take represent any learning strategies employed to make decisions and to develop skill sets for a particular purpose. Making learning personal, then, is a collection of personal learning strategies intentionally imposed by the individual (or network), for the individual (or network), through a growing level of self-awareness as to how to best engage with ideas, materials, and others (a PLN).
Setbacks and Opposition
It’s possible that “setbacks” come from learners being inexperienced and unaware (i.e., metacognitive unawareness). When using ICTs or social media in unfamiliar (learning) contexts, it’s possible that initially, students feel distracted, which can hinder the learning process for a period of time. But it's never just the technology. Technology often brings new forms of communication or engagement that is uncomfortable for the learner but still may be beneficial. Technology can promote new relationships with other people that may be different in how ideas are exchanged and what additional ideas (concepts, conflicts, etc.) emerge. When evaluating setbacks, consider the entire PLN as a whole since technology (materials) is only part of the issue.
If students are missing the lecture-based classes, it could be simply them getting used to a new way of learning. It could be they were given no choice in the removal of the long lecture. It could also be that a dynamic lecture - a talk broken down into shorter segments followed by some brief activity - works for some and not for others. Regardless, the professor is not attempting to “personalize” learning, but rather is trying a new pedagogical approach that might (or might not) impact a learner's self-awareness of a PLN (i.e., making learning personal). Stated another way, teachers cannot personalize learning for students; students can, however, become more self-aware of their own PLN that serves a particular purpose (e.g., learning objectives/outcomes). Teachers can help learners develop this metacognitive skill through ongoing, transparent communication.
The best way to analyze student success is to understand the decisions and actions they took that led to some favorable outcome. Students become aware of what they did and did not do, and teachers become aware of their part in this process and what they could have done differently.
Moving away from traditional methods of teaching (which is not all bad) has more to do with differentiated instruction (i.e., understanding the impact of student and teacher decision-making processes), awareness of one’s PLN, and personal reflection, and happens best when education remains open. Transparency of teaching and learning occurs when stakeholders understand and engage with OERs and how they function throughout the network: 5Rs, Creative Commons, and Public Domain. Understanding licensing is the foundation of making learning personal (as opposed to personalized).