Introduction: Insights from 200+ years of personalized learning

David Dockterman presents his Perspective about the evolution of individualised learning over the last 200 years and its future direction

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Education is taken for granted as being the right of the individual but the steps taken to safeguard these rights has evolved over time. David Dockterman presents an interesting Perspective discussing how the education system has changed, especially with regard to personalising the learning experience of students. He reflects on the reforms made to education in the context of the socio-political and economic climate of the last 200 years. The instructional models initiated by leading education professionals in the 1800s, promoted "innovative tools" like the blackboard as effective in driving engagement and increasing student performance. However, a survey reported teachers ignored the blackboard because they did not know how to use it. This type of feedback resonates in todays schools with regard to some teachers lack of expertise using technology limiting the implementation of mobile devices in class. But changes in pedagogy don’t always reflect the future and ironically take inspiration from the past. For example, separating students into classes based on their age is an education system harking back to the 1500s. The impacts of education though are always being reviewed and reforms to accommodate the different rates at which individuals learn to meet students needs and interests, continues into the twenty-first century. 

Read this fascinating Perspective on learning in our companion journal, npj Science of Learning.    

Gabrielle Ahern

Managing Editor, npj Science of Learning Community

I am based in Queensland, Australia, and have an interesting portfolio of skills, experience and qualifications in science research and content creation.