‘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:

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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.

CK-12.org: 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.”

Meris Stansbury

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