“Personalized Learning”, an ambiguous buzzword that should mean something


Just read Personalized Learning: People, Practices, and Products, and basically feel the same about the term personalized learning as I did when I wrote Personalization and Personal Learning Networks. But I would add the following…

Learning can’t help but be personalized. No two individuals learn anything exactly the same way. Thus, “personalized learning” is the same as “learning”.  I cannot personalize a learning experience on a student because I only have a limited amount of control over all of the possible factors that could become part of a student’s learning process. Similarly, I cannot personalize my own learning because that would mean that at some point it was not personalized or was in some degree less personalized – impossible. Whatever I do to learn anything is inherently and totally personalized and is no indication of learning effectiveness, efficiency, nor engagement. The use of the term “personalized learning” is like saying, “We should teach based on the learning styles of the students.” – another impossible task. The content itself and the reason for having students interact with that content (not the students themselves) determine which learning styles (or multiple intelligences) are most appropriate.

Share your thoughts!  Do you agree?  Disagree?  How do educators personalize learning and how is this similar or different from the notion of differentiated instruction?  How can students make their own learning more personalized?  How is this similar or different from autonomous learning?

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