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‘Mass Customized Learning’: The key to education reform?

AASA conference speaker explains how to break the barrier of Industrial Age education

'Mass Customized Learning': The key to education reform?

“The classroom must be a place that balances both skill and engagement, and it can’t be limited to a time and place. One way to accomplish this engaging, successful, 24-7 learning environment is through customization that’s currently available through a number of resources,” said Mathiesen.

According to TIE, Mass Customized Learning (MCL) is described in this scenario: “What if every day, every learner came to school and was met with customized learning activities at his or her precise developmental and achievement level, was learning in his or her most effective learning style with content of interest, was challenged, was successful, and left school eager to come back tomorrow?”

An example of MCL can be seen in this video, which theorizes what a student’s MCL experience would look like:


Mathiesen also named a number of free online resources that educators can use to reach and engage their students. Examples include:

iTunesU: K-12 curriculum videos are also included.

Google Earth: It’s not just a map; it also includes activities such as looking at classical art in museums in Italy and mapping shark and whale migratory patterns, to name a few.

Wolfram Alpha: A computational knowledge engine.

Khan Academy: Free online lectures and videos. These free online textbooks are also customizable and include many interactive components.

A full list of online resources and tools, as well as Mathiesen’s presentation, can be found on her TIE wiki page.

More information about TIE’s approach to MCL, including a rubric to get started, can be found in the book Inevitable: Mass Customized Learning, Learning in the Age of Empowerment, by Chuck Schwann and Beatrice McGarvey. Information can be found here.

TIE also is collaborating with the authors of this book to produce a field book of resources to support educational leaders in implementing MCL. A sample of resources from the soon-to-be published field book can be found here.

“Obviously, you can’t go into your school tomorrow and say, ‘OK, let’s implement MCL in one day,’” Mathiesen said, “but you can start by identifying important content and skills today’s students need [and] determining how best students can learn these, by customizing content and by redefining space and time constraints.”

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  1. jumarqui

    February 21, 2012 at 9:36 pm

    I like the concept of customizable mass education. It works and works well for basic skills, but the concept is still in its infancy for teaching higher order thinking skills and creative thinking. Once someone develops a system that can teach children to be innovative thinkers, I’ll get behind this all the way. Currently, the closest thing we have to this is game-based learning, and educational games are about as developed as adaptive learning technology that can teach children how to think rather than what to think.
    For more on the limitation of adaptive learning tech see my post on the Khan academy:

  2. markjoslin23

    March 6, 2012 at 7:53 am

    “Mass customized learning seems a very promising concept. How it actually develops into a system will depend a lot on the flexibility, adaptability, accessibility and the quality of the resources. We’re talking about students learning on interactive platforms that can offer free content personalized to their learning style and level, and enable real-time feedback to parents, teachers, or tutors.
    We are talking about great content and engaging delivery. The closest I’ve seen so far in this regard is a hyper-interactive enhanced Algebra resource developed by CK12 and Wolfram together. I think you should check it out.