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Aurora Institute

Radically Personalized Learning for All

CompetencyWorks Blog

Author(s): Katherine Prince

Issue(s): Issues in Practice, Rethink Instruction

kwWhat if we could create a future in which education truly served the needs of all children?  Create a learning ecosystem in which learning adapted to each child instead of each child trying to adapt to school?

KnowledgeWorks’ recent infographic on the future of learning, “A Glimpse into the Future of Learning,” highlights the potential emerging trends to do just that.

Already “school” is beginning to diversify in form, more and more states are freeing learning from its historic ties to time and age, and communities are finding new ways of spreading learning across their landscapes.  Some public school districts are providing credit for “informal” learning, and new platforms for finding and engaging in diverse kinds of learning experiences and then showing mastery are emerging.

KnowledgeWorks’ third full forecast on the future of learning, Recombinant Education: Regenerating the Learning Ecosystem, details the disruptive forces behind these changes.  Together, they add up a fundamental shift in the design of learning.

We’ve already seen the digital revolution and the accompanying cultural changes reconfigure  other knowledge-based industries such as publishing and bring a new level of personalization and modularization to industries such as retail (think Amazon) and music (think iTunes).  Over the next ten years, we expect to see a similarly seismic shift in education as traditional educators and new kinds of stakeholders put learning resources and experiences together in many right combinations to meet the needs of particular learners at particular points in time.

The result promises to be radical personalization for all learners.  Competency education represents a critical pathway for moving today’s public education system in this direction and could form the crux of articulating the value of public education for a knowledge-abundant society.  KnowledgeWorks focuses our policy work in this area because we see it as a critical step for moving toward the future of learning today.

But competency education is not the end game.  We will have at our disposal the tools and knowledge to keep pushing the edge of personalized learning.  Let’s make sure to set up today’s new competency-based solutions with enough space and flexibility that we can keep diversifying learning pathways, supports, and focal points as individuals and their families get increasingly accustomed to creating individualized learning playlists that support their needs, interests, and goals.

As Senior Director of Strategic Foresight at KnowledgeWorks, Katherine Prince leads the organization’s exploration of trends shaping the future of learning.  Since 2007, she has helped a wide range of education stakeholders develop aspirational visions and strategies for change in the context of KnowledgeWorks’ ten-year forecasts.  Before joining KnowledgeWorks, Katherine introduced innovations in tutor support systems at Britain’s Open University.  She holds a BA in English from Ohio Wesleyan University; an MA in English from the University of Iowa; and an MBA from The Open University with emphases on creativity, innovation, and change and on knowledge management.