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by Stephen Downes
Feb 17, 2016

Feature Article
Personal and Personalized Learning
Stephen Downes, Feb 17, 2016.

It may be preferably to embrace an alternative to personalized learning, which might be called personal learning. In the case of personal learning, the role of the educational system is not to provide learning, it is to support learning. Meanwhile, the decisions about what to learn, how to learn, and where to learn are made outside the educational system, and principally, by the individual learners themselves.

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The 2030 Sustainable Development Goals and the Pursuit of Quality Education for All: A Statement of Support from Education International and ASCD
ASCD, Education International, 2016/02/17

In my email today: "ASCD and Education International (EI) ... are calling for a clear definition of quality education that places the needs of the child at the fore." From the press release you can link to this declaration, which piggybacks on the U.N. declaration to advance their own agenda (they don't even link to it). So, you may ask, what is a "quality education"? Here's their take on it (quoted, and converted to a list):

  • focuses on the whole child—the social, emotional, mental, physical, and cognitive development of each student;
  • each child enters school healthy and learns about and practices a healthy lifestyle;
  • environment that is physically and emotionally safe;
  • actively engaged in learning and connected to the school and broader community;
  • has access to personalized learning;
  • challenged academically and prepared for success;
  • provides the outcomes needed for individuals, communities, and societies to prosper.

According to the statement, a quality education is supported by three key pillars: quality tools, quality teachers, and quality environments. "Education advocates have a responsibility to promote policies that integrate schools, communities, and nations into a system that supports development of the whole child, ensuring that each student is healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged." We could have a long conversation about this.

I agree that learners should be engaged, supported, and challenged (and everybody should be healthy and safe). But that has many meanings; does it have to be provided by a teacher in a school? It might be that our methods create, rather than solve, the problem the U.N. is really attempting to address: 57 million children remain out of school, 103 million youth worldwide lack basic literacy skills, and more than 60 per cent of them are women. How do ASCD and Education International (EI) address these? Surely not with this declaration.

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Various authors, Mozilla, 2016/02/17


"Choosing what's public and what's private allows you to be you." That's the tagline from this short video from Mozilla. It's part of an effort to make internet users more aware of personal privacy and security, and to support privacy-preserving mechanisms in web browsers and websites. Mark Surman writes, by email, "We expect there are a number of significant political battles on surveillance and encryption coming down the pipe. We’re going to need to ask people like you and your friends to take a stand. Before we do this, we want to provide a solid grounding on why encryption matters." (Note that I've removed the 'utm' tracking information from the link that Mozilla sent me.)

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.