Educators Support Personalized Learners
By Jim Wynn & Michelle Selinger
In a nutshell, there is a debate that argues that the current education model is flawed and based on 19th-century views and needs of education—both of which do not take into account the skills learners need for life and work in the 21st century—such as communication and collaboration.
While the one-to-one computing model may empower learners by giving them access to information, it does not always lend itself to encouraging collaboration in the classroom and, therefore, could reinforce traditional and outdated views about teaching and learning as a solitary endeavor. In many cases, the experience of learners may have the appearance of personalized learning but at best simply enables a self-paced journey through the same content as other learners without any recognition of their prior learning or levels of attainment. There may be electronic feedback built into the system that is adaptive, but that is rare. Without teacher, expert or peer feedback it is hard to see how progress is made.
The one-to-one computing model could cause learners to end up working on their own, staring at a computer or tablet screens with no interaction to scaffold their learning. The various roles that educators and peers play within this context—as mentors, role models, and co-learners—are critical. Again, any discussion about one-to-one computing needs to consider the purpose of formal education and the role educators and others play in supporting learners.
Surveys such as TALIS continue to remind us that some part of the learning process will see a teacher leading a class of learners from the front of the class. Whilst this remains perhaps a too dominant learning scenario it doesn’t mean that this is an approach that should never be used. 1:1 initiatives challenge educators to move from the front of the class into the middle of it and explore learning scenarios, which they often do not have the skills to plan and deliver, especially with devices as part of the equation. Where this issue is tackled is when the greatest success can be seen.
Jim Wynn is Chief Education Officer at Promethean and is responsible for the company’s education strategy. Jim has been head teacher of two secondary schools in the UK, in which he pioneered the use of ICT.
Dr. Michelle Selinger is Director of Education in the Global Public Sector Internet Business Solutions Group (IBSG) at Cisco Systems. Michelle has the fairly unique experience of having worked across many countries in traditional, distance and online education in all sectors of education, as well as in vocational education and training, and has published widely on a range of technology and education related topics.