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In Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and Dr. Priscilla Chan’s recent letter to their newborn daughter, Max, they point to personalized learning technology as the key to helping their daughter and others in her generation achieve their goals.
As a learning strategy, personalized learning recognizes that students have different needs. Learning programs adapt for each individual based on their learning process and goals so that they can be as innovative, productive, and accomplished as possible.
Personalized learning technology ties together both the capabilities of improving the potential of individuals as well as the education of children all over the world. It can serve the most diverse populations whether they are in the same classroom or at different locations.
In its essence, personalized learning combines the two overriding ideas that power Zuckerberg and Chan’s new philanthropic initiative of about $45 billion: “advancing human potential and promoting equality.” In their letter, they write to Max about her future:
…You’ll have technology that understands how you learn best and where you need to focus. You’ll advance quickly in subjects that interest you most, and get as much help as you need in your most challenging areas. You’ll explore topics that aren’t even offered in schools today. Your teachers will also have better tools and data to help you achieve your goals.
Even better, students around the world will be able to use personalized learning tools over the internet, even if they don’t live near good schools. Of course it will take more than technology to give everyone a fair start in life, but personalized learning can be one scalable way to give all children a better education and more equal opportunity.
Others are already advising Zuckerberg and Chan on how to go forward. Psychologist Howard Gardner, originator of the theory of multiple intelligences, advises on learning pathways, individual choice, varied approaches to learning, and different intelligences.
Anya Kamenetz at NPR, talks to education experts who remind us that with personalized learning comes redesigning schools and investing in support for teachers —which Zuckerberg and Chan are planning to do.
Zuckerberg and Chan admit that there are many ways to achieve personalized learning or adaptive learning but technology is key to its success. They also recognize that in order to accomplish their goals, they need to partner with leading education experts. Acrobatiq’s courseware, based on the research of learning science experts at Carnegie Mellon, aligns with what Zuckerberg and Chan imagine for the future.
And Smart Author gives instructors the capability to personalize their entire course in a way that reflects exactly what they want to teach using Acrobatiq’s comprehensive adaptive learning platform.
With this announcement and funding, Zuckerberg and Chan have reinvigorated the work of educators everywhere to explore and adopt best practices and platforms in personalized learning.