Design in the Service of Learning

Today’s student is NOT the student of the 70s, 80s, 90s, or even the 00s.  Today’s student expects more and values their own entitlements.  The social world around students has trained them to expect more.  More from society, more from their peers, more from schools, and more from their learning opportunities.  The bus has left the school depot.  The one-size-fits-all learning design approach is dead, and our education systems knows it.  Yet, not much has changed to address the needed change in our approach to learning because there is a technology gap.  The name of that gap:  Personalized learning.  Yes, many vendors advertise personalized learning platforms, yet few have delivered on the promise, or perhaps a better statement is that few have been able to fully exploit the power of technology combined with human know-how to realize the power of personalized learning.

All around us, the digital revolution disrupted many businesses.  And the school system is not exempt.  However, the disruption there is slow.  Missing is the understanding that services (like teaching and learning) that WERE previously delivered by humans could not be delivered in a hybrid fashion, with a shift in mental models:  human-delivered services MEDIATED by technology.  Theories such as situated cognition provide us with clues as to how we could imagine a new personalized learning environment, one in which student and teacher knowledge is embedded in the activity, context, and culture in which it is learned.

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