Thursday, December 4, 2014

Personalized Instruction Revisted

Math 2.0: It takes a village
 In a recent book by Rick Hess “Breakthrough Leadership in the Digital Age: Using Learning Science to Reboot Schooling" he writes “The question that motivates this book is ‘Given what we know about learning, how can new technological tools help promote great teaching and learning?’ The good news and bad news about technology and learning are one and the same. Schools have not yet begun to systematically tap learning science through technology to deepen, accelerate, and nurture learning. The “bad” here is obvious. So what’s the “good” news? It’s that, since we mostly haven’t figured out the right way to put things together, we’re in a position to make enormous progress by tapping emerging tools and technologies the right way.”

In a recent report on personalized instruction written by UCLA professor Noel Enyedy revealingly entitled “New Interest, Old Rhetoric, Limited Results and the Need for a New Direction for Computer-Mediated Learning”, the author writes:
It seems that the pace of technological advancement, combined with the clear success stories of how technology has improved productivity in other sectors, is leading policymakers and educators alike to take another look at computers in the classroom, and even at computers instead of classrooms. In particular, advances in computational power, memory storage, and artificial intelligence are breathing new life into the promise that instruction can be tailored to the needs of each individual student, much like a one-on-one tutor. The term most often used by advocates for this approach is “Personalized Instruction.”  
However, despite the advances in both hardware and software, recent studies show little evidence for the effectiveness of this form of Personalized Instruction. This is due in large part to the incredible diversity of systems that are lumped together under the label of Personalized Instruction. Combining such disparate systems into one group has made it nearly impossible to make reasonable claims one way or the other. To further cloud the issue, there are several ways that these systems can be implemented in the classroom. We are just beginning to experiment with and evaluate different implementation models—and the data show that implementation models matter. How a system is integrated into classroom routines and structures strongly mediates the outcomes for students. In light of recent findings, it may be that we need to turn to new ways of conceptualizing the role of technology in the classroom—conceptualizations that do not assume the computer will provide direct instruction to students, but instead will serve to create new opportunities for both learning and teaching.”* 
It will be fun to watch this opportunity manifest itself in the math arena in the coming months and years. I call my vision of this Math 2.0 and I'll be writing about it in future blogs.

*The full report is at

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