Inside the School Silicon Valley Thinks Will Save Education


Reposted from Wired:

If you are truly fed up with the school status quo and have $20,875 to spare (it’s pricey, sure, but cheaper than the other private schools you’ve seen), you might decide to take a chance and sign your 7-year-old up for this little experiment in education called AltSchool. Except it’s not really so little anymore. And it’s about to get a lot bigger.

Founded in 2013 by former Google head of personalization Max Ventilla, AltSchool has poached high level executives from Google and Uber. It’s got users—in this case, parents—applying by the thousands. It’s actually making money. And as of today, Mark Zuckerberg just became one of its largest investors.

AltSchool is a decidedly Bay Area experiment with an educational philosophy known as student-centered learning. The approach, which many schools have adopted, holds that kids should pursue their own interests, at their own pace. To that, however, AltSchool mixes in loads of technology to manage the chaos, and tops it all off with a staff of forward-thinking teachers set free to custom-teach to each student. The result, they fervently say, is a superior educational experience.

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Four Reasons to Worry About “Personalized Learning”


Reposted from Alfie Kohn’s Blog:

Personal learning entails working with each child to create projects of intellectual discovery that reflect his or her unique needs and interests. It requires the presence of a caring teacher who knows each child well. Personalized learning entails adjusting the difficulty level of prefabricated skills-based exercises based on students’ test scores. It requires the purchase of software from one of those companies that can afford full-page ads in Education Week.

For some time, corporations have sold mass-produced commodities of questionable value and then permitted us to customize peripheral details to suit our “preferences.” In the 1970s, Burger King rolled out its “Have it your way!” campaign, announcing that we were now empowered to request a recently thawed slab of factory-produced ground meat without the usual pickle — or even with extra lettuce! In America, I can be me!

A couple of decades later, the production company that created Barney, the alarmingly friendly purple dinosaur, sold personalized videos called “My Party with Barney.” You mailed them a photo of your kid’s face and they digitally attached it to a generic animated child’s body that “plays” with Barney in the video. Your kid’s name is also inserted into the soundtrack every so often to complete the customization, with Barney enthusing: “Have a balloon … Abigail!” The result may have delighted, or even fooled, some three year olds. But why in god’s name are adult educators buying the equivalent of My Party with Barney in order to boost their students’ reading scores? How can we tell when the lovely idea of personal learning has been co-opted and then twisted into PLI? Here are four warning signs…

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What Do We Really Mean When We Say ‘Personalized Learning’?


Reposted from MindShift:

The idea of personalized learning is seductive – it implies moving away from the industrialized form of education that pumps out cookie-cutter students with the same knowledge and skills. After decades of this approach, it is clear that all children don’t learn the same way and personalization seems to honor those differences. However, that term has taken on several different meanings.

“When you say personalization, what do you mean by that?” asked Diana Laufenberg, director of Inquiry Schools and a former teacher at Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia. “It’s not a word that always means the same thing.”

Personalization is often used in the ed-tech community to describe a student moving through a prescribed set of activities at his own pace. The only choice a student gets is what box to check on the screen and how quickly to move through the exercises. For many educators that’s not the true meaning of “personalized learning.”

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Personalized Learning: Failure is No Longer an Option! [INFOGRAPHIC]

10trendspersonalizeddetailedThe infographic “10 Trends to Personalize Learning in 2015” was one of the most popular I shared in 2014. In this more detailed image, Bray and McClaskey dive deeper into what each of the ten trends, broken out by the four areas indicated above. For more information on their work, visit their website and check out their excellent recently published book, Make Learning Personal.

View the original posting here.


10 Trends to Personalize Learning in 2015 [INFOGRAPHIC]

2015 Personalize Learning2015 is the year the focus will finally turn the corner by organizations in education and the business world to get it right: it is about the learner. It is not about calling it “Personalized Instruction” or “Personalized Education.” It is not about the technology, the curriculum, or instruction. It is about the learner making learning personal for his or herself. It is about teacher and learner roles changing. It is about calling students “learners.” It is about transforming the system because now is the time to change the system. The current system is broken. It isn’t working for most of our learners. The current system of content delivery and focusing on performance instead of learning is not making positive changes for our children and their future. So Kathleen McClaskey and Barbara Bray put together four large concepts that encompass the 10 trends that you will see impacting learning starting this coming year: Learning Culture, Learning Environments, Deeper Learning, and Partnerships in Learning.

View the original posting here.