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Can technology enable personalised learning?

Personalised learning can be extremely helpful for vocational courses, students with special learning needs, and for collaborative learning in small groups.

online classroom
Online classrooms can help in personalised learning. (Source: Dreamstime)

Learning what you need, when you need, and how you need.

By Amit Kapoor

Every individual is different and so are the learning needs and capabilities. With a digital wave touching every part of our lives, learning cannot anymore depend only on teachers and classrooms. Even a class with less than 10 students may have varied skill sets, aptitudes and needs that teachers may not be able to address, all by themselves. This could simply be because of lack of time, skill, or resources.

In several cases, due to universal teaching methods, which are not inclusive, many students are not able to unleash their real talent, even when they are under the guidance of the best teachers at the most distinguished schools.

Personalised learning is the key to bridge this gap. It helps a student learn in the area of her choice or interest at the pace she likes. In essence, personalised learning is about assessing how a student learns best and then engage, encourage, and reassure her with correct interventions periodically. The journey can be refined further basis the initial response. This means that the student does not have to follow any rigid academic structure or methods and can be in control of her learning.

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Even though personalised learning has existed and been used through personal trainers, one-on-one sessions, technology has taken it to the next level. Powered with artificial intelligence and machine learning, augmented reality and virtual reality, several Ed-tech solutions provide customised programs for each subscriber. This ensures that all individual learning needs including learning plan, study modules, test preparation and assessment, feedback, and future planning are covered in a seamless manner. The development of a personalised learning plan is done through a detailed analytical review of student’s past performance, aspirations, and abilities.

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The learning is not only through text-based modules but also videos, VR experience, and telephonic interaction between teacher and student. The data analytics abilities make it easy to deep dive into the submission of learning exercises to identify the learning patterns and bridge the gaps, whenever required. However, personalised learning should not be misconstrued as learning in a personal silo.

The student has the chance to interact with peers from all over the world. Imagine a student participating in a global quiz on his favourite topic and competing against the best from around the world. The rub-off effect is a bonus.

The best part about personalised learning is that it does not judge every student with a standard curriculum delivered within a rigid timeline. Instead, the content is customised according to the individual needs and students can learn at their respective speed, while enhancing the overall experience. This also means that they have more accountability and become an integral part of the journey.

Can personalised learning replace classrooms?

The vanilla answer is no. At the current stage, the education system around the world enforces certain obligations about attendance and certifications. Therefore, personalised learning can only complement the conventional education system. A student may still have to enroll in a formal educational institution to receive the formal certification. However, technology is capable of replicating (or even enhancing) the classroom experience in a personalised manner. As personalised learning finds more acceptance in society, it could be extremely helpful for vocational courses, students with special learning needs, and for collaborative learning in small groups.

(The writer is Co-Founder and Director, Eupheus Learning.)