The Battle for “Personalized Learning”

Michael Feldstein, Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment, May 10, 2016
Commentary by Stephen Downes
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I actually don't care who defines 'personalized learning' nor how they define it so long as I can keep distinguishing it from 'personal learning'. But I think it's far-fetched to say "it seems to have no specific meaning at all" and even more so to say that "it means... robot tutor in the sky" (and yes, of course Knewton was over-reaching - anyone who understands how this technology works understands that it has been over-reaching). And having said all that, their own definition ("a family of teaching practices that are intended to help reach students in the metaphorical back row") is just plain weird. Their examples ("that teachers have been using for a very long time") include 'homework' and 'tutors'. I get what they're after - nobody wants a repeat of the co-option of terms like we've seen with 'open' and 'edupunk' and 'MOOC'. But this sort of non-definition won't help anything. Why not at least refer to a principled way of describing it, and work from there, instead of "asserting squatters’ rights" by pretending that nobody had ever attempted the task before? (p.s. -1 for mixing reference to LoTR and HP).

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