Since the spring of 2020, education systems around the world have been taking measures to organize the learning process that was compromised because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Teachers are forced to change the educational process by using accessible communication tools and distance learning technologies based on various methods of delivering electronic content. Arne Duncan and Rey Saldana argue on changes that need to be implemented in order to erase all discriminatory factors that still exist in education. The researchers suggest several modifications, including changing the school calendar, personalizing education, evaluating skills instead of seat time, and supporting other students’ needs (Duncan and Saldaña 8). Although the concept of individualizing the learning process is still relatively new and has several disadvantages, it is still a beneficial solution for improving the educational system today.
What is Personalized Education
First of all, it is necessary to point out that the situation that was caused by coronavirus will last until the invention of the vaccine and general immunization of the population. Nevertheless, the educational system will be different even after the pandemic is over. One of the consequences of the era of scientific and technological progress is that knowledge is constantly being modified and updated. Therefore, current education is devoted not so much to the dissemination and storage of knowledge as to the development of ways to obtain it. For the first time in history, the learning process is preparing people to live in an information society that is still forming. Furthermore, the pandemic situation only facilitated this process by forcing teachers and students to change methods to gain knowledge.
The organization of personalized learning includes the selection of teaching methods that would maximize the disclosure of the internal potential of the student. Moreover, it mostly focuses on children’s interests and individual abilities. Such a trajectory is an educational route that is tailored for specific needs and takes into personal account characteristics. In this case, the student can choose what exactly he or she wants to learn, how the process will be organized, and how the schedule is made. Not long ago, talking about a personal program for each student was perceived as something to work on in the future. However, recently the pandemic accelerated this process, and the modern world is changing so fast that people are forced to learn and modify ways to obtain knowledge constantly. New solutions and technologies appear in each field of science; that is why educational planning is planned to become personalized.
It is evident that in schools that decide to implement methods of personal education, the difficulty level of classes corresponds to the individual characteristics of the student. In other words, the skill levels are taken into account, and specific ways to achieve a positive result are rationalized for each student. In addition, Arne and Saldaña suggest that limiting class sizes “can also help us focus on grouping children in ways that best suit their learning styles” (10). Other advantages include the improvements in children’s motivation and the opportunity to choose learning partners who are equal to in educational abilities and needs.
Another reason to personalize studying is the fact that the development of technology makes it possible to recognize individual educational paths even within an ordinary school and standard budget financing. Such an approach facilitates individualization through the use of an online environment that enables the customization of subject content and the redistribution of teacher time. In other words, routine tasks are removed, which leaves more time for creativity and communication with children.
Moreover, the use of devices was already proven to have a positive impact on students’ experience. For instance, researchers note that “families in Florida are fully embracing the customization afforded to them through the flexible Gardiner Scholarship ESA option” (Burke and Bedrick 2). Thus, teaching technologies allows school staff to use new methods and tools that are aimed at developing skills and encouraging different activities for students, allowing them to make informed decisions. The success of new educational programs is based on understanding the uniqueness of each student. Moreover, it helps to create an atmosphere of trust and security that will allow children to develop internal motivation. In the case where the learning plan is individualized, the student receives support and confidence; they can ask questions, share anxieties, and doubts. With this approach, each student can become not only the author of his own educational paths but also be the creator of their own curriculum.
Nevertheless, there is no doubt that even with such benefits implementing personalized education can be challenging. First of all, one of such problems is that this new method of teaching includes more requirements for the school staff. For example, researchers note that there is a need for providing “personalized teaching and training depending on the contexts, including classes that were already taken and methods of learning preferred” (Tekin et al. 5545). Other disadvantages include the necessity for teachers to receive additional training and the need for online adaptation of tests, quizzes, exams, and evaluation criteria. However, this issue can be resolved by funding programs that help teachers to adapt to personalized education and providing them with time-off in order to improve their qualification.
Moreover, services and devices for personalized learning are yet to be fully developed, and they are usually are not widespread due to the lack of thoughtful marketing. Coronavirus forced the distribution of remote learning programs due to urgent necessity, but the process was rapid. Tekin et al. indicated the issue by saying that “existing systems do not take advantage of the personalization” (5545). Moreover, the widespread use of communication technologies has led to a significant increase in the amount of information in the world. For this reason, there is an apparent need for specialists who are capable of ensuring the safe processing, storage, transmission, and use of information. The reason why this disadvantage relates to education is the fact that without IT professionals, there is a risk of misinterpretation of the learning needs of students due to incorrect interpretation of data.
Another vital drawback of personalized education is the high costs for the creation of systems that help to individualize the studying process. However, some researchers have already suggested a solution to this problem. For example, they note that “funding should be appropriated through a state funding formula that is consistent, instead of policymakers having to fight for appropriations for the program on an annual basis through the budget process” (Burke and Bedrick 23). Therefore, it is still possible to reduce costs by creating appropriate funding programs.
In conclusion, it would appear that even though the personalized educational system is connected with some drawbacks, it opens new possibilities for teachers in students nowadays. In the world that is constantly changing, it provides the ability to look for the best learning style. Aside from obvious advantages, including the reduced risk of infection, individualized education offers motivation and opportunities to choose. Classes in schools have obviously transformed, and the benefits of these changes can gradually become the norm of student’s lives.
Burke, Lindsey, and Jason Bedrick. Personalizing Education: How Florida Families Use Education Savings Accounts. EdChoice, 2018, Web.
Duncan, Arne and Rey Saldaña. “Coronavirus Has Changed School Forever, Let’s Make It An Improvement.” USA Today, 2020, Web.
Tekin, Cem, et al. “Etutor: Online Learning For Personalized Education.” Proceedings of the IEEE International Conference on Acoustics, Speech and Signal Processing (ICASSP). University of California, 2015, pp. 5545-5549