The conventional method of teaching children hasn’t changed much since the 18th century – classrooms, hierarchical groups by year, and a standardized timetable and curriculum. And yet, out of the 1.5 billion schoolchildren around the world, most still don’t reach their potential.
This includes wealthy countries, where about 30% of teenagers fail to reach proficiency in at least one subject. Poorer countries are worse off, where only a quarter of secondary schoolchildren acquire even basic knowledge of core subjects.
These dismal numbers have not even changed over the past 15 years during which billions has been spent on IT in schools. In most schools, there is often one computer for every two students – in some schools, the number of computers surpasses the number of students.
The idea of using technology to revamp education is not new, but it hasn’t lived up to expectations. However, the past few years have seen a steady influx of “personalized learning software” that may change the game.
Personalized learning software is essentially course software that adapts to the student’s unique identity, interests and preferred way of learning, giving them the opportunity to learn what is necessary to advance. Some of the latest developments include the integration of AI (Artificial Intelligence) which enables the software to interact with students in far more sophisticated ways.
Here are just a few examples:
- The ability to continually study the data produced by each student in the ongoing process of using the software, and adjust accordingly
- Algorithms that adjust questioning so that students get the right answer about 70% of the time – the success rate that neither bores nor deflates learners
- Speech recognition technology that creates “virtual peers” who can talk to children in vernacular that makes them feel more comfortable
Schools that have embraced this are also changing how students and teachers interact during the day. This may well mean the end of the old factory model, where all children of the same age learn from the same teacher in the same way.
However, there are proponents and critics of this model, and how well it will work in a truly widespread manner is yet to be determined.
Are you using personalized learning systems in your school? As always, feel free to reach out to me with your thoughts, as well as for assistance with your existing technology!