Personalization and Responsibility

George Siemens wrote the Duplication theory of educational value about higher education, but I am going to share a quote from this with a couple adaptations for K-12 public education:

“Let me posit a duplication theory of education value: if something can be duplicated with limited costs, it can’t serve as a value point for [public education]. Content is easily duplicated and has no value. What is valuable, however, is that which can’t be duplicated without additional input costs: personal feedback and assessment, contextualized and personalized navigation through complex topics, encouragement, questioning by [an educator] to promote deeper thinking, and a context and infrastructure of learning. Basically: human input costs make education valuable. We can’t duplicate personal interaction without spending more money. We can scale content, but we can’t scale encouragement”

In The Global Transformation in Education (Updated) Mark Treadwell discusses the ‘perfect storm’ in education which includes the intersection of 3 storms:

1. The arrival of new technologies, and a shift to the internet.

2. A better understanding of how the brain learns.

3. “The ability of young people to build their own creativity; to learn, to be able to research, the inquiry process, action learning, to actually be able to do their own learning and build understanding, and take that understanding and be creative with it.”

One point of disagreement that I have with Treadwell is that he thinks there needs to be far great emphasis on teacher accountability whereas I believe in Andy Hargreaves opinion, in The Fourth Way, that we should be focusing more on teacher responsibility. [Update]

Andy Hargreaves 'The 4th Way' - Pyramid by David Truss

I think focusing on accountability invites a greater emphasis on content & easily duplicated, less valued educational experiences, compared to an emphasis on responsibility… which adds value and can be both humanizing and personalized in nature. On a related thought, and in a yet to be published blog post, I’ll add: (link will be ‘here’ after I post it)

“There are some that think technology is an ‘answer’ to what ails the old models and paradigms; Some who believe that we can replace teachers with class monitors, and computer monitors as well as test markers and digital marking. We need for the transformation we seek to be shared openly, and articulately, so that good pedagogy is explicitly analyzed, questioned reflectively, and improved upon by a community of learners.”

I think one of the underlying things we are all looking at in the quotes above is the personalization of learning. To explore personalization a little deeper, have a look at this chart by Barbara Bray and Kathleen McClaskey:

In their accompanying report, Bray & McClaskey share how Assessment of Learning relates to Individualization, Assessment for Learning relates to Differentiation, and Assessment as Learning relates to Personalization.

Assessment as learning (Personalization) is based in research about how learning happens, and is characterized by learners reflecting on their own learning and making adjustments so that they achieve deeper understanding… Reporting in assessment as learning is the responsibility of learners, who must learn to articulate and defend the nature and quality of their learning. When learners reflect on their own learning and must communicate it to others, they are intensifying their understanding about a topic, their learning strengths, and the areas in which they need to develop further.”

Going back to the George Seimens’ quote, educators add value to the learning process by personalizing the feedback and guidance provided to the learner.

Going back to the Mark Treadwell video, he asks, “How do we prepare teachers to teach young people to be lifelong learners? To apprentice them and gradually build the capacity over years to become capable of managing their own learning and learning forever.

Going back to my own quote above, educators openly sharing in learning communities, create an environment where teachers are learners, and they model what they want from students.

Going back to Bray & McClaskey, have a look at the last sentence I quoted above, only switch ‘learners’ to ‘educators’: “When [educators] reflect on their own learning and must communicate it to others, they are intensifying their understanding about a topic, their learning strengths, and the areas in which they need to develop further.

We need to personalize the learning for our educators and our students… seeing both first and foremost as learners. We can’t cookie-cutter our professional development to teachers and expect meaningful results. We can’t evaluate students based on tests with easily Googleable answers. We can develop a sense of learner responsibility by personalizing learning, making it meaningful and making it work that matters.

Finally, if we decide to look at educators and students as learners first, then we also need to recognize the responsibility that comes with being a learner. So much of what I read about now is about things ‘we need to do’ to support the learner. But be they educators or students, learners need first to understand the importance of their own role in learning. Personalization isn’t just about catering to a learner, it is also about learner autonomy and thus learner responsibility.

And so I’ll leave you with a Participant’s Manifesto I wrote a while back. I think that if we are going to move learning on a path of greater personalization, then we need to start with the expectations of the learners (be they educators, students, parents or community members) in our learning spaces, (be they physical or digital spaces).

School 2.0 Participant’s Manifesto

When I enter our learning space I will be prepared to learn, to participate, to engage, to discover, to play, to inquire, to create.

We are all different. Our opinions are different. We all learn differently. Our learning will be differentiated.

Respect makes all the difference.

We are not all equal, but we must all be ethical, just and fair.

Classes are not rooms; they are learning communities.

Our community will use technology effectively, affectively and appropriately.

Curriculum describes and directs; it is not to be prescribed or directed.

Knowledge is static. Synthesis is dynamic. We create meaning.

Collaboration is a series of learned skills.

Grades are measurements; Rubrics offer feedback.

Self-reflection is mandatory.

When I leave I will be more literate, more resourceful, more involved, more collaborative, more connected, more thoughtful and less willing to accept injustice of any kind.

I will make a positive difference in my world.

About David Truss

Home: DavidTruss.com Blog: Pair-a-Dimes for Your Thoughts (RSS) Podcasts: Podcasting Pair-a-Dimes (RSS) Connect: Contact David TrussGoogle+ Even more About Me: Who am I? A husband, a parent... An educator, a student... A thinker, a dreamer... An agent of change. ~Think Good Thoughts, Say Good Words, Do Good Deeds~
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17 Responses to Personalization and Responsibility

  1. Chris Gold says:

    There are so mnay positive points here: Teacher responsibility is closely linked to the work of Steve Dinham and John Hattie regarding effect size and many teachers are truly expert while others need to undertsand their responsibilities as learners and how to enagae kids with greater efforts to personalise learning rather than teaching.
    Among your manifesto is the inherently important art of self reflection and often this will only happen after some peer reflection.Ego must be set aside before this can happen effectively.
    The table of comparison shows how interrelated various methodolgies and pedagogies can be and teachers should be encouraged to reflect and share with colleagues so as to keep implementing the right mix.

  2. David,

    This summer I have had the privilege of creating and being the “lead” facilitator with #DigiFoot12 http://digifoot12.wikispaces.com/ an open online “MOOClike” course. The original idea was to offer K-12 students, educators, parents, and adminsitrators an opportunity to learn about digital citizenship and social media because I did not feel that everyone has the same technology opportunities in public education. I created it because I am a parent and I am trying to influence educational change for my children.

    The concept stemmed from #change11 a MOOC developed by Siemens, Downes and Cormier – based on connectivist learning theories and instructional design. However, I didn’t know what “connectivism” was or the idea that we as educators could be autonomous learners until I heard Alec Couros present on April 4, 2012 http://change.mooc.ca/week29.htm and I experienced the “paradigm shift” which so many allude to.

    As a k-12 online adminsitrator and teacher, what I heard was the possibility of breaking down walls and connecting together as learners – just like what you allude to in your post. Fundmentally, that learning and passion has to start from inside every educator – no one can “make them change” or force them to believe that “technology” will offer a new way of thinking or paradigm shift.

    I totally agree that it is up to every educator to be accountable for their learning in order to offer meaningful, personalized, authentics and engaging learning for everyone in their “learning ecosystem”. That there is no such thing as an educator, we are all learners and teh sooner we “leanr” thta, the sooner we expand our horizons…

    I have learned more through MOOC like open online courses, peeragogy and connected learning (whatever you want to call it) in the last year, than I have in my whole professional career. I have been a “participant” and a “facilitator” and both experiences have exceeded my wildest expectations because I have become an autonomous and accountable “learner” who is involved in being a part of educational change and not just thinking about it.

    Although I may have done a lot of “work” I would never have learned anything without my PLN and other learners. While you allude to the “learning spaces” – I have heard the term, “learning ecosystems” (more systemic rhetoric I guess) from Cormier, Ito and Rheingold. The change occurs within a learner but is supported by the system.

    Mizuko Ito writes in Hanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out:

    It is about…” bridging a gap between what is learned at school and what is learned at home…..(eventually it) creates a system to connect and learn together regardless of age, experience, culture or background. (p. 19)

    You might also want to skim over my Literature Review created for #DigiFoot12 based on the idea of bringing connectivist ideas to k-12 education.
    https://docs.google.com/document/pub?id=1wFdQSKW-eyAH4uiVIYg8lrQSiWVGHgH-wT6g1BtfLTQ

    Thanks for the great post!
    Verena :)
    ** See what Verena Roberts has been up to… home

  3. As a writer and a teacher of writing, the responsibility to reflect on personal learning is…I want to say fundamental, or elemental…but even those words are insufficient. Writing is a completely personal act. When one instructs in writing, it is a sharing of knowledge that can be easily Googled. It is in the application of the ideas and principles that one learns, and this is both deeply private and communal. What is critical is the relationship between the student and teacher, and the openness of both to learning. That openness is based on trust, both in the other and in one’s self.

    Last January, I came across a metaphor for learning that mirrors what you are saying, but in the slightly different context of community building. It describes personal development and community building as a path “defined by the accumulating experience of the community…” This path metaphor is brilliant: “…a path invites participation, it beckons to new horizons, it demands effort and movement, it accommodates different paces and strides, it is structured and defined. A path can be experienced and known, not only by one or two but by scores upon scores; it belongs to the community. To walk a path is a concept equally expressive. It requires of the individual volition and choice; it calls for a set of skills and abilities but also elicits certain qualities and attitudes; it necessitates a logical progression but admits, when needed, related lines of exploration; it may seem easy at the outset but becomes more challenging further along. And crucially, one walks the path in the company of others.” This is from a document released by the Universal House of Justice on 12 December 2011.

    What you have articulated here, David, brings our collective awareness to a higher level. I am thrilled by the connections that occur when this kind of conversation takes place. Thank you for sharing.
    ** See what Amalia Giebitz has been up to… Countryside Livin’ in Sun Jia Tun

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  5. Melanie says:

    Thanks for great post David. What resonates with me in your post and manifesto is the concept of a learning community–love the sound of a learning ‘ecosystem’…I’ve gradually been building a PLN via twitter and through a fabulous #flatclass project and am overwhelmed with the generosity, support and respectful nature of my fellow educators/learners. Ongoing, meaningful sharing and reflection makes me (the learner) feel VALUED, makes me want to explore, wonder and share more…

  6. The chart defining “personalized”, “differentiated”, and “individualized” learning is very helpful. I find that all of those are words we throw around and assume those we talk with share the same understanding. But our understandings could be completely different.

    It seems to me that there is a place for all of those types of teaching and learning. Within the context of meaningful work, some basic skills might require explicit teaching and/or review.

    Differentiation and individualization require great skill as an organizer and instructor. Personalization adds the human touch. Am I right in that?
    ** See what Janet Abercrombie has been up to… Standardized Testing and Innovation: Chinese-American Perspective

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  11. Dave Truss says:

    Chris,
    Thanks for pointing me to Steve Dinham and John Hattie, I will have to exlplore their work when I get a chance.

    Verena,
    I’ve enjoyed Digifoot12 so far and I truly look forward to exploring your Lit Review and also ‘learning ecosystems’. I like that term as an expression of the blending of living and learning.

    Amalia,
    Count on the writer to share a wonderful metaphor… Our learning journeys (paths) continue to intersect, a half a world away geographically!

    Melanie,
    Isn’t the Flatclass team wonderful! They’ve really made the world smaller and intricately connected as both students and educators.

    Janet,
    Excellent point about basic skills still requiring explicit teaching. Responsibility to scaffold the learning is probably the biggest challenge educators must face as they personalize learning.

    Thanks for your comments… Another wonderful example of how my learning continues, well after hitting the ‘Publish’ button on my blog! :)

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