The term sounds great. In my mind, personalized means independent projects, student choice in reading and differentiated instruction. Science Fair projects and History Day projects come to mind when I hear the term "personalized." I picture Genius Hour rather than scripted curriculum. In this case, personalized simply means a program that kids follow in a self-paced manner to move up through various skills.
It sounds great in theory. It promises what no teacher can promise - a fluid, reliable, customized experience to meet each child's needs. Unfortunately, it fails to include issues of motivation, human interaction and critical thinking. It's based upon the assumption that learning is a transmission of skills rather than a student's own construction of knowledge.
It isn't personalized. It's programmed. Here's the difference:
- Personalized learning is interdependent rather than dependent
- Personalized empowers students to own their learning rather than wait for a program
- Personalized learning involves a human dialogue rather than a programmed algorithm
- Personalized learning includes issues of human motivation that include interests, beliefs and concepts instead of simply "skill level"
- Personalized learning includes interaction that is collaborative and creative rather than rote and programmed
- Personalized learning begins with the belief that people construct their knowledge rather than receive it
So, I'd prefer that we abandon the term "personalized" when what we really mean is "programmed."
Look for Wendell the World's Worst Wizard. It's a mid-level chapter book (ages 9-up), coming out on 11-12-13.