What is individualization?
One of the three main elements of personalized learning, individualization is when the pace of learning is adjusted to meet the needs of each student. The emphasis becomes mastery of the content. With individualization, each student shares the same overall learning goals, but individual students are able to progress through learning objectives at different speeds. For example, some students may take a little longer on topics they haven’t quite grasped, but can move quickly when they have demonstrated mastery.
To operationalize individualization requires identifying clear learning outcomes and tracking students’ mastery with these objectives. As a result, the terms “competency-based education” and “mastery” are closely related or even synonymous.
Traditionally, students with special needs have had individualized learning plans (IEP) to ensure they’re receiving the attention they need to be successful, but the idea is starting to gain traction in all areas of education.
Individualization focuses on the “when” of personalized learning.
What are the benefits?
- Students all go through the same learning experience, but learn at their own pace.
- The emphasis shifts from seat time, to mastery.
- Each student engages in a crucial element of personalized learning.
- Students become comfortable and self-motivated as they achieve their learning goals.
The role of technology in individualization
In today’s environment, growing classroom sizes make it difficult to individualize learning for each student. In addition to providing one-on-one instruction, individualization requires teachers to constantly keep tabs on how students are performing and meeting the targeted educational objectives. Although the teacher is always the driving force in the classroom and can never be replaced, technology can assist teachers in the arduous task of collecting student mastery data.
Why does it matter, anyway?
Individualization plays a key role in personalized learning and works best with used in tandem with other aspects of personalized learning. In our ever-connected world, personalized learning is crucial for each student. When implemented successfully, individualization can help prepare your students for future success.
Culatta R. (2016). What Are You Talking About?! The Need for Common Language around Personalized Learning. Retrieved from: http://er.educause.edu/articles/2016/3/what-are-you-talking-about-the-need-for-common-language-around-personalized-learning.
Kerns, Gene (2016). How can we make sense of personalized learning?. Renaissance. Retrieved from: https://www.renaissance.com/2016/11/23/how-can-we-make-sense-of-personalized-learning/.