Personalized Learning’s Impact on the K-12 Classroom

Photo credit: Brad Flickinger (CC-By-2.0)

The Atlantic featured a sponsored post called “The K-12 Classroom Experience in the Age of Personalized Learning” and it is rather eye-opening (in a disturbing way). This features an interview with Julia Freeland Fisher, director of education at the Clayton Christensen Institute, a think tank that researches “disruptive innovation.”

Here are some excerpts:

Open spaces, workspaces…

Today most classrooms are compartmentalized by grade level and subject, with rows of desks facing a teacher. They’ll be replaced by flexible, open spaces where you’d be hard-pressed to find a door. As students pursue more personalized objectives, they will move freely around interconnected work spaces optimized for different learning styles rather than divided by subject.

Classroom seating isn’t a sacred cow to me, I’m not a fan of rows of desks facing a teacher either. What this excerpt implies though is the shift of teachers facilitating learning rather than teach. That’s not an improvement in my book.

Oh, the open model for classrooms is not new by the way. I attended an elementary school with open spaces and it was distracting.

Data… Data… Data…

In a world where our every click, swipe, and step is tracked and analyzed, it may come as a surprise that the typical school does not do much data analysis. “Whereas a lot of industries are awash in data, education is just getting there,” Fisher explained. Because data from disparate education technologies doesn’t always integrate, education lacks the sophisticated analytics of other industries. But increased integration of technology will allow for more data tracking, which could help educators tailor their instruction to individual students’ needs. Well-analyzed data could help teachers identify struggling pupils and catch theirconfusion and frustration long before a graded evaluation.

Beautiful, classrooms as data collection tools.

Spin… Spin… Spin….

Some worry that the rise of online learning will threaten the role of teachers. But proponents insist that online learning will enhance their role by freeing them of rote tasks like grading and paperwork, leaving them with more time and bandwidth for students. Fisher and her team believe that tech innovations will allow educators to shift mundane tasks to a computer and thereby specialize more than they presently can. “In a traditional school, your role as a teacher is very much a jack-of-all-trades,” Fisher said. “In these new, more flexible designs of school, the possibility to be a teacher who works with a particular group of students or specializes in curriculum design or mentorship—all of that becomes potentially more feasible.”

What they are promoting is facilitation, not teaching.

Networking over knowledge.

Though much of the discourse around K-12 education focuses on content, experts think that the next big wave of disruption will be less about what students know than about who they know. Future developments will connect learners with mentors and industry experts. “We’re really tracking the rise of online mentorship models, of out-of-school learning opportunities, and of tools that actually bring experts into a classroom over video and the like,” Fisher said.


One thought on “Personalized Learning’s Impact on the K-12 Classroom

  1. We are witnessing the Death of Knowledge. Instead, PROCESS is everything. Students will no longer develop their minds; they will not actually Know anything. They will not develop a discipline of learning. They will become Cyborgs, a human body with a computer brain.

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