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Are we personal enough in our teaching?

29th March 2018

Everywhere we turn in business these days we’re faced with meeting the challenge of personalising contact with customers. CRM systems of varying degrees of sophistication provide us with the Holy Grail – the 360-degree view of the customer. The more personal we can be, the more relevant we can make ourselves to them, and the more they’ll want to do business with us. We collect reams of ‘big data’ to better understand customer behaviours, learn more about what makes our audiences tick, and deliver what they want, when they want it. So, you have to ask, are we able to personalise our education to the same degree?

From a top-level point of view higher education is faced with the same ‘customer’ challenges. Since students have to pay for university, they now behave as customers, demonstrating the same traits – and universities are tasked with understanding what makes them tick. We can put technology to the same use in education to personalise the learning experience and provide choice for the student.

Where education institutions are putting technology to good use, the flipped classroom is a reality for many. Flipping things around ensures that topics are learned at home first – typically via the use of video – and then discussed at a deeper level and brought to life in the classroom or lecture theatre afterwards. But perhaps the biggest advantage we can see from flipped learning is the ability to personalise teaching.

The true benefit comes from using videos as a teaching tool to deliver direct instruction at home so teachers and lecturers are free to reinvent classroom time. Flipping can change the type of work students complete and the way in which class time will be used; it can modify the nature of assessment, and it can alter the way in which teachers will report on student work. It also means that the time the lecturer once spent delivering new content to students is spent catching and correcting any misconceptions each student may have – increasing the personalisation in the lecture theatre.

In a departure from the norm – students may also be given the opportunity to choose what they will do to learn and practice. Limited choices are appropriate for most learners and remove constraints allowing students to learn the way they want – and the way they best get results. They may choose from a list provided by the lecturer – and that can be done anywhere! Learning can become truly personalised when the student is in control. Technology provides that control.

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