Personalised Learning: Can it be implemented correctly?
All students enter a classroom with different abilities, learning styles and personalities (Levy, 2008, p.161). Personalised learning depends on really knowing the strengths and weaknesses of every student in the classroom (Education Services Australia (ESA), 2011, p3). It requires a range of teaching strategies including whole class, group and individual learning (Jones & McLean, 2012, p.76). Traditional education puts the emphasis on the teacher with teacher-centered instruction whilst personalised learning requires the student to be at the centre of learning. It strives to ensure that every student reach’s their highest potential (Jones & McLean, 2012, p.75). It can be argued that the origins of personalised learning belong to a number of theorists including Gardner (Courcier, 2008, p.59) and Vygotsky (Underwood & Banyard, 2008, p.234). Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences considers that every individual has their own interests, needs and abilities (Courcier, 2008, p.59) and by finding out their preferential learning style a teacher can support their students to succeed. Vygotsky’s theory based on cultural-history, which states that thinking is primarily influenced by one’s social environments. Individuals from different cultural and social environments differ in their way of thinking (Underwood & Banyard, 2008, p.234) and this requires education to take these differences into account. In 1983 a report from the United States, A Nation at Risk, indicated that the gap between students achievement, depending on their cultural and social position, was widening and that changes needed to occur to reduce this gap and encourage students to remain in school (Office for Education Policy and Innovation (OfEPI, 2007, p.6). These issues echo within Australia which were also identified by the Melbourne Declaration (MEETYA, 2008, p.5) and spurred the creation of the Australian Curriculum. By 2003, the concept of personalised learning had gathered some momentum in the U.S. and it was suggested that Personalised Learning Plans (PLPs) for every student be created to support their learning. The PLP is not a static document but requires active participation by all stakeholders including teachers, students and parents to identify and apply individual approaches to learning (Dept. of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (EfEEWR), January 2011, p.2). Leadbeater introduced the idea of personalised learning in 2003 in England for the planning and delivery of public sector services (Campbell, et al,. 2010, p.135). He believed that the concept could also apply to education where at the core existed a basic curriculum but depending on the individual would be developed and enhanced to allow the student to explore deeper and broader aspects which would suit their interest and learning needs (Campbell, et al,. 2010, p.138). He argued that schools and teachers would no longer be in control of the content and pace of the curriculum but would inform and support the student through facilitation and direction (Campbell, et al,. 2010, p.138). Developing a common understanding of personalised learning is still occuring as there are a number of different perceptions in regards to its meaning as well as to how to implement it in schools and classrooms to benefit all students. It is essential to recognise that the factory like system of education for the masses, where the same content and delivery method, was used to meet the needs of the 20th Century no longer apply in the 21st Century (Crowther Centre for Learning and Innovation (CCfLI, Summary Report 2011, p.7). That this method of education can no longer meet the challenges that young people face today as Australia and the Western world move from a product producing economy to an information producing one. Suggett states that personalising education has four common themes: learners are central, ICT is a key...
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