Personalized learning goals: New information is built over reusing of previous information

Some students perform better, while others not. What are the main reasons?

1) Study material provided and learning strategies used by teachers. It simply doesn't meet the learning criteria.
Students are feed with so much of abstract stuff as a result only those students excel who have a better memory retention capacity of abstract information and those who work too hard for it. But such a hard work is meaningless, as you will forget such information after exams are over.

2) Not teaching kids from where they are. 
I will explain it with a concrete example.

While teaching chemistry, one of my students was so fast in holding information and doing the problems, while other was slow. The reason for her/his slowness is not that he/she is less intelligent, it's because (s)he is taking more time for processing due to lack of previous foundational information. 

When (s)he does the processing, (s)he has to take the account of many kinds of stuff that (s)he has not learned before. For example, while teaching chemical kinetics I found out that (s)he doesn't know even the BDMAS operation of maths. Chemical kinetics chapter is math heavy, but I tried to explain everything with concrete representation, but still, students were unable to do the problems or reach the solution accurately because it requires so much practice of math fundamentals before doing those problems. But the good thing is that they have understood everything that I taught.

From this, I learned that you can explain stuff catching anyone from the street if you are explaining it in the simplest way possible, so that (s)he can understand it.

Similarly, while teaching redox reactions, one of my students was too slow, because (s)he doesn't know about periodic table much. What are the electronegative elements? Also (s)he was making the error in calculation while solving for x. Changing values from LHS to RHS or vice versa problem that most students face while solving an equation.

So the fast student needn't have to spend so much time in doing because her/his brain is already trained for the fundamental stuff that is required. So (s)he requires less processing to reach the solution.

So the message is "New information is built over reusing of previous information"  For example, one has to know the alphabets to write words, words and grammar rules to write sentences.

Why personalized education?
There are no one-size-fits for all. All learn at a different pace as they have different levels of background and prior information and different experiences, different choices, different personalities and different strengths and weaknesses.

Why learning pace differ?
There are many reasons for it, especially the prior knowledge of the subjects, and learning habits. Some are bookworms spend more time on studies, while others are more sportive and entertainment seeker. There is a lot of impact of having a prior knowledge such as good vocabularies, overlearning of basic mathematical skills which free down the working memory so that there working memory is used in building strategies to solve mathematical problems with full capacity, the preceding familiarity with the subject taught. Learning habits include using or not using effective evidence-based learning strategies.

The problem with different learning pace.
In the present system, most schools teach the same curriculum without giving any freedom to the learning pace of students. As a result of which students are unable to cope with the curriculum, and the result is all-or-none i.e. those who are unable to cope with the speed of curriculum, fall behind because less learning/understanding leads to further less learning of later topics, and this process is compounded every time.

Designing a personalized syllabus based upon quality study material they follow:

1) A central institute will design a core template of the syllabus and list down the study material available throughout the world.
2) Students and schools/colleges should first decide the material (books, MOOCs, video lectures, scientific journals, magazines, blogs) they will follow that meets the learning criteria, then design the syllabus using the core template given. They have to add rigorous specific details to the syllabus based on the study material they will follow, and they can add or remove some part of the core syllabus.
3) Then students and schools/colleges have to submit the study material list which they will follow and syllabus to a central institute for approval which will check the quality of study material and the syllabus, whether the syllabus design and material meet the 21st-century learning skills.

Ideas for designing the core template is given in the following the link:

The core template will provide only the main keywords for the syllabus, which can be used to design the syllabus of a student by the school.
The teacher can adapt the syllabus according to the quality material.
e.g. Schools can follow the book "Doing Math with Python: Use Programming to Explore Algebra, Statistics, Calculus, and More!" by  Amit Saha, along with teaching Calculus, Statistic, Algebra and also decreasing the load of a student in some areas of mathematics
The National Curriculum Framework work is to provide assistant and feedbacks in designing the student syllabus.

A personalized syllabus template:
Need to be designed for a student with the help of a teacher/ school

Pre-test to identify pre-learning topics:

Identifying what preceding knowledge is required for doing the course and teach them accordingly.

Students should give a pre-test for example mathematics, in order to identify their preceding knowledge. In case of mathematics, do student know solving equations, can they solve problems of fractions, are they comfortable with shifting decimal places of the result while multiplying.

Identification process should also continue during the course, and corrective measures need to be taken.

The syllabus of the student must also include these pre-learning topics

How will board exams be done?

All the unique topics (along with its specifics) of the syllabus need to be sorted out and compiled. Then prepare lots of questions based on each topic according to the study material provided. Only topics that are chosen by the student will be given for testing in the examination.

The purpose of such a method?

  • It will give the liberty to an author to prepare study material and innovate on the study material based on the 21st-century skills as books need not have to be coupled with state or central board syllabus.
  • It will give liberty to the schools to innovate and bring the 21st-century skills without being hitched by the syllabus.
  • Students will have freedom of choice, they can learn at their own pace, based on their previous skills and improve upon it.
  • Students will learn according to the availability of quality material, not according to the random syllabus prescribed to them. Syllabus without quality material is meaningless.
Why follow books instead of the syllabus?
Books are written in a more systematic way taking into account "New information is built over reusing of previous information". Syllabus makes learning random and haphazard and brings trouble in learning.

Why personalization and shared learning both are important?
Shared learning helps children to work like humans in a cooperative and collaborative manner. It also saves the time of the teacher. Complete personalization will lead to isolation. Personalization and shared learning should co-exist together but should be done in a correct way with working practices based upon evidence in context.

Learning Without Limits

Measuring Success
What is progress and why in academics progress should be the only measure of success?
The measure of progress needs to be done with three attributes.
1)Learning new concepts and topics to gain new abilities
2) Enhancing prior abilities
3) Speed of learning
Progress measurement doesn't ignore the learning pace of students (but the goal must be reached in time bound manner), students will have more choices to learn based upon their interest, it doesn't ignore the limitations of students, for example, differently-abled students.
We can't measure progress directly, but can collect evidences of learning and review it. 

Goals and feedback for the students must be:

How to design pretest and posttest to check the progress of the students?

Pretest checks where you were, and posttest checks where you are after intervention or experimental manipulation.

pretest and posttest should run in a chain that checks the improvement. 

Question design is important, and it should be more personalized. If a student doesn't perform well in some topics of the exam, such topics should be noted down and intervention needs to be taken, then again a posttest with questions based on the performance of pretest.

These tests should be of low stakes.
Questions design should meet the learning strategies, not random questions only to test students.
Each unit should undergo this chain, till the learning goals are reached.

Some of the more questions are 
What time interval these tests need to be taken? That depends on the study material, and students learning time and should be done carefully by the teacher by proper observation.
But it increases too much workload for teachers?
Most work will be designing questions and checking of answer scripts. But this workload can be decreased by the use of technology.

Most often the study material/books have questions, so they can manipulate values and give it again, or giving only a few questions (not all questions in the material) for each topic in each test, or using questions from many books 

Probiquery: A single page application to share questions with students
Source Code (in github):

Discovering Merit

The purpose of education is the progress of students, but when we look at the industry they require the scaling that help them to discover merit.

Here, the need for comparison between students is required. In education comparison between students, not necessarily mean competition. The comparison helps us to construct a critical nature in us, that helps us to progress. The purpose of comparison is to discover what is effective and what is ineffective or less effective.

We need an effective methodology that helps students to track their progress, also scaling system that helps the industry to appoint candidate based on merit.

Summative assessment should be microscopic instead of macroscopic.
It encourages growth mindset and mastery of subjects.

The summative assessment or exam should meet the following specification:

1) Each unit should be given time for at least half hour to solve the questions. In a single day, 6 units need to be covered, instead of all units.
2) Questions from each concept or learning objective should be present for each unit.

Grades for each unit should be given, instead of for total grade for a subject. It will give a more comprehensive and fair picture of your education as all concepts are covered in the exam.
If a student gets failed in any of the chapters/units, he/she has to again appear the exam for that chapters/units instead of reattempting the complete exam.  

Why should classroom be linked with learning objectives, not with age group?

Learning has no age bar. In the present scenario, if a student fails, he/she usually quit attending classes due to fear of embracement. But if we link classroom with learning objectives, this will no longer be the situation. Neither is required to promote students to next level, without mastery of prior concepts.  Students who are failed in the particular topic has to attend only the required old class along with attending the new class for new learning objective. We will have a further better situation, that is, students of different age group, from adults (mother, father, grandmother) to children can attend classes, to meet their learning goals. Yes, learning pace will differ in this case, but it will be an advantage, fast-moving students can act as a mentor to slow or novice students. 

Please read the second point of progressive education below. 

Education will take everyone, with No One Left Behind

Peer review of questions and answers for both formative and summative:
All questions and answer script must come under peer review with striping out of names and identity of students. Questions and answer scripts can be archived, better if its a decentralized server. With decentralized servers, one can easily scale with least maintenance without concentrating the power . Feedback of peer review can be given to teachers and students through email or through the website.

Project-based learning
Instead of practicals, project-based learning must be introduced. Practicals in India has become an unproductive ritual to get marks. All most in every schools and college, teachers don't give much attention to learning by practicals. So instead of practicals, project-based learning must be introduced.

An example of a well researched project-based activity that teaches concepts of time:

How to implement project-based learning?
A website for submission of links to blogs where ideas and procedure of projects are written. They should share few photographs and/or videos about the projects that were done, along with the caption that explains the photograph. Also, use social networking sites like tweeter to share the links
Students record of the projects must be uploaded to a website, which will undergo plagiarism checker and review. Then provide feedback to the students and schools to improve on it.
The website should also act as an interface for sharing ideas, feedback and criticism between different schools and colleges so that everyone refines and improves their projects

All these different kinds of websites should only act as a feedback system to share and improve ideas, and can be used to narrate statistical information, but should not be used for any lawful step against/ in for of students, schools or colleges. 

These websites will bring awareness towards effective learning strategies so that no one remains ill/less/misinformed due to lack of communication.

The action plan will act as collective intelligence to transform education.

Traditional Vs Progressive Education:

Progressive educational approaches differ from traditional education in following ways:
1) Progressive education deals with learning, comprehension,  instills curiosity and self-awareness, using the concept in a new situation, investigate, problem-solving by looking for patterns, listing all/many possibilities, scrutinizing, thinking about thinking, make judgments, justify and check a solution.
Traditional approach main purpose is high test scores, grades, and graduation

2) In the case of the traditional approach, all students are taught the same material and students are grouped by age and ability whereas in progressive approach students having common goal are dynamically grouped with the different ability or subject knowledge, students collaborate for explaining the content, problem-solving, giving constructive criticism for work to diminish the knowledge gap between them and to enhance the newly learned and old skills and the progress is tracked by peer assessment and feedback and students have best choices to the course outline they learn.

3) Teaching methods of traditional education emphasize on direct instructions and lectures, students learn through listening and observation without active participation, whereas progressive education also includes and emphasizes on inquiry-based learning, hands-on activities, student-led discovery and group activities.

4) In traditional approach focuses on memorization of facts. Correct knowledge is most important, without alternative thinking and learning from mistakes are not encouraged. In the case of progressive education students can think of alternative solutions, mistakes are allowed and learning from mistakes are encouraged and students are asked to take risks, and not avoid mistakes, show resilience and perseverance. Critical thinking is paramount.

5) Traditional approach promotes fixed mindset which is the belief that intelligence and abilities cannot be developed, whereas progressive approach stimulates growth mindset, a belief that qualities can change and that we can develop our intelligence and abilities.

An article about how to successfully cultivate growth mindset among students:

Growth Mindset: Clearing up Some Common Confusions

Further reading:

Assessment Without Levels - Challenges and Solutions

The mastery approach of learning.

Learning Objectives Breakdown:

Why share learning outcomes with students?


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