The word “Paradigm” means a new system. A paradigm shift means a change in the way things are done…moving from status quo to something new, and hopefully better than the way things have been done. Contemporary educators are discussing the meaning of “personalized learning” and are trying to figure out exactly what it is, and how it can fit into traditional classroom settings in which students are placed in rooms according to ages and passage of previous grade levels. Teachers, administrators, and technology gurus are debating the benefits and liabilities of personalized learning. Among the debates is the question, “What exactly is personalized learning?” Some people think it is the same as individualized learning. Other educators argue that personalized learning means addressing each student’s personal interests in classroom settings.
Topics of debate include concern about data harvesting from online curriculum providers who offer programmed lessons presented on laptops and personal computers, and students’ progress is monitored by a central office loaded with software that tracks each student’s data…and sells that data to social scientists, government officials, and software providers.
Another concern is how to provide personalized learning in classroom settings where teachers are trained to “teach” essential academic elements prescribed by the state. In such a setting, giving personal attention to students is almost impossible because classroom focus is on teaching students to master state requirements while keeping up with peers with diverse talents, aptitudes, and interests.
Confusion arises because most educators do not distinguish the difference between learning and teaching. Personalized education cannot be achieved in lockstep classrooms where students are “moved along” like cattle. No two students are alike in skills, interest, dreams, aptitudes, and academic competencies. Therefore, to try to personalize education based on age-grouped students is next to impossible.
However, Paradigm Accelerated Curriculum (PAC) has developed a micro-campus learning system and individualized curriculum that allow students to learn anywhere, anytime, whether a state-certified teacher is present or not. Moreover, Paradigm’s individualized learning system and curriculum can accommodate students’ personal dreams by allowing them to learn on non-teacher dependent schedules in conventional school environments. Thus, “PAC students” have time and opportunities for building their personal academic regimen and personalized learning schedule to accommodate such electives as art, music, culinary skills, auto mechanics, equine skills, and technology.
Whereas contemporary educators may voice concern about emancipating students from teachers and state schedules, Paradigm already provides self-learned management skills for proctors and parents who want to help students learn to manage their time and participate in designing personal academic programs for fulfilling diploma requirements. PAC provides goal-setting forms, transcript planners, and annual academic contracts that place on students the responsibility for daily planning and monitoring their academics. In the PAC individualized learning system, proctors help students determine courses for graduation based on individual/personal interests, aspirations, and aptitudes. The role of proctors is to monitor daily academic achievements, supervise testing, and establish the learning environment to optimize students’ progress toward graduation. Adult proctors do not create lesson plans or teach academic content; those elements are built into Paradigm curriculum.
Because every PAC course is available in both paper-based and digital format, students have the option to learn from a combination of paper and/or computers, smartphones, or tablets…anywhere or anytime. Consequently, Paradigm accommodates each student’s biological timeclock, which determines the best time of day or night for students to personalize their learning.
PAC’s micro-campus system enables parents or proctors to define and accommodate personalized learning for each student without the “hassle” of trying to teach essential academic elements as if every student were just as competent as peers grouped according to age. Application of personalized learning requires educational institutions to rethink how to facilitate learning, rather then how to help teachers meet individual student needs and competencies in classrooms.
The time is ripe for educators to experience a Paradigm shift in how and where students learn.