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Personalized Learning and Sound Curriculum—Two Sides of the Same Coin

Education Next – Thomas Arnett

“When I use the term “personalized learning,” I do not picture a form of education that sets aside core knowledge and rigorous content standards for the sake of allowing students to pursue personal interests. Catering to students’ interests and passions can be a powerful means for engaging and motivating students. But that form of personalization should not compromise students’ mastery of core knowledge. Rather, I see personalized learning as a powerful means for enabling students to master core knowledge. In any given class, different students have different learning needs, if for no other reason than the fact that they all start the class with different levels of mastery of prerequisite core knowledge. Blended learning—the technology enabler of many forms of personalized learning—leverages the flexibility of online learning to break the constraints of the traditional whole-class, single-pace instructional model to differentiate instruction more effectively to students’ needs. As Hansel stated last year in a different post, ‘If personalized learning means personalized pathways to mastering a well-rounded curriculum, it could radically improve education.'”(more)

Online schooling wave of the future or failed experiment?

News Herald – Juliann Talkington


“You have probably heard the claim, “If you choose to educate your child online, he/she will be a social misfit.” To analyze this assertion, it is important to understand online education.

There are two basic types of online education: real-time and self-paced. In real-time online courses, students attend class on a computer. Classes are held at specified times and students participate in discussions during class periods. Each real-time online class is slightly different, because students participate in the instruction.

Self-paced courses are prepared in advance. Students progress through the material at their own pace. There is no real-time class interaction. Proficiency is sometimes tested with quizzes or tests that are integrated into the learning material. In this case, students must pass a quiz/test before they move on to future lessons. In other cases, students are required to go to proctored test centers to take exams.

In general, self-paced courses work well for material that requires little discussion. Real-time classes are more effective when most of the student learning occurs during classroom dialog.

Online education is appealing, because there is less wasted time. There is no need to drive to a physical location, worry about disruptions that occur in physical classrooms, or waste time dressing for school. In addition, students and parents have the ability to work school around other things in their lives.

Self-paced instruction is more cost effective than traditional classroom teaching, because lectures are prepared in advance and are used many times. In addition, this type of course delivery can be of higher quality than traditional classroom instruction, because the best teachers can present the content and there are no interruptions.

Some students find self-paced online instruction challenging, because they can procrastinate to the point that it is nearly impossible to learn the material. As a result, there is a reasonable argument that self-paced instruction is only appropriate for highly motivated and disciplined university and high school students.

Also, it is possible for students to succeed in an online environment without learning how to interact with others. As a result, it is imperative that online students have other avenues for developing social, leadership, and team skills.

Online education is not for everyone, but is an attractive alternative for motivated, self-disciplined students who have a strong social network and opportunities to build leadership skills and learn how to work on a team outside of school.


Educators Discuss Integrating STEM Education Throughout Curricula

The U.S. News and World Report – Alexandra Pannoni

“Science, technology, engineering and math, better known as the STEM fields, need to be integrated throughout a child’s education to be most effective. That was the the key takeaway at the “Shattering Silos: Implementing Interdisciplinary Learning” breakout session at the U.S. News STEM Solutions Conference. Panelists included Doug Moore, vice president of digital education strategy and business development at the New York Hall of Science; Greg Pearson, scholar at the National Academy of Engineering; Amy Sabarre, PK-12 STEM coordinator at Harrisonburg City Public Schoools; and William Wolfe, chair of the engineering department at Baltimore Polytechnic Institute.”(more)

Not All STEM is Equal

The Huffington Post – Jim Conwell

“As engineering and other STEM degrees become more fashionable due to the benefits they provide – good jobs and starting salaries – more colleges and universities find themselves developing programs to serve this need. The reason is simple economics – students want to leave college with jobs, and STEM majors—science, technology, engineering and mathematics—continue to be in demand. Colleges want to build pipelines of students. Students, however, shouldn’t be misled. Not all STEM is equal…There is a difference between a STEM curriculum and a college that “now offers an engineering degree.” So what tend to be the differences?”(more)

The College Debt Crisis Is Real, But Let’s First Talk About Getting Our Kids to College and Graduating

Education Post – Kayla Patrick

“…the growing college debt crisis is a critical issue that should be addressed through policy change, but I also know that the real barriers keeping students from being successful in college begin much earlier than their first day on campus. Schools across the country are inadequately serving many of their students long before they get to college. ACT recently reported that 76 percent of high school graduates were not adequately prepared for first-year college courses…What can be done to enable students to feel better prepared to accomplish their goals? Schools need more rigorous curriculum…”(more)

New tech program would push hands-on learning to give teens real-world skills

The Washington Post – Moriah Balingit

“At a busy, sprawling campus in Arlington, students are learning how to be car mechanics, physical therapists, emergency medical technicians, chefs, cybersecurity specialists and engineers — all while they are still in high school. The Arlington Career Center hosts a variety of programs aimed at getting students ready for the workforce immediately after high school and giving them a head start for careers they might train for in college…“It’s project-based learning, and the academics are anchored in career-technical education,” said Margaret Chung, principal of the career center. The program is designed to give students a taste of various career and technical education programs during their first year in high school…Students also would take all their core academic courses at the school, including English and history, but Chung is urging teachers to collaborate and formulate lessons that reach across all disciplines.”(more)