Personalized Learning Is a Problem of Privilege

Paul France, EdSurge, Feb 06, 2018
Commentary by Stephen Downes

Yes it's another rant against personalization but there are also some interesting things in this article. First is this: "We often conflate individualization with personalization." According to Paul France, 'individualization' means " to have the assistance of a complex technological algorithm to assign activities to children," which he says is " impersonal and dehumanizing" and " focuses on consumption of educational material instead of interaction with meaningful provocations." But what is 'personalization'?

We read " Tools that minimize complexity, make educators more powerful, connect individuals, or redefine learning tasks can contribute to a more personal learning environment." But that's personal learning, much like I define it, " making learning personal by amplifying our humanity, not limiting it." It appears that 'personalized' learning falls somewhere in between. "'Personalized learning” tools don’t fulfill real needs," writes France. "Rather, they serve perceived needs that have been fueled by privilege." Me, I'm happy to lump 'personalized' and 'individualized' together. But for those who need it, there's a distinction there.

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