Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Momentum for Personalized Learning Continues

One of the areas of inquiry during my time here at the Klingenstein Heads of School Program has involved a critical examination of the role of technology in the future of education.

As you may be aware, a lively debate about the effective use of technology in schools has been underway for a number of years. Critics of technology in school argue that the millions of dollars invested in technology would have be better spent on other areas of school improvement.

Proponents of technology in education feel it has the potential to transform education for the future and ensure that all students have an equitable opportunity to be successful.

This latter belief is evident in the Obama administration’s National Education Technology Plan, Transforming American Education: Learning Powered by Technology (2010). As a school founded on a belief in individualized learning, it was gratifying to read that the plan called for greater emphasis on “engaging and personalized learning experiences” and that teachers need “to focus what and how we teach to match what students need to how and how they learn.”

In a recent class, the school heads spent time reviewing and discussing this plan. We agreed that the goals are ambitious and if achieved, will result in an approach to education different from the one students presently experience. The greatest concern expressed by the various heads was the impact of the growing presence of technology upon the vital social dimension of an independent school.

This important question is one we are studying closely at Greenwood. Throughout the year one group within our school leadership team has been researching how we can best move toward a personalized learning model that embodies the spirit of learning anytime, anywhere.

At the same time, a second group within the team is focused upon ensuring that we maintain a strong focus on the development of the whole person, an essential element of our school’s mission. Clearly we cannot turn our back on technology, as it has much to offer in the advancement of student learning.

However, the key here seems to be that we continue to move forward in a balanced and measured manner, keeping in mind that the social dimension remains a critical element of the high school experience.

Allan Hardy

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