Education: Standardized vs. Individualized

Education in America has historically been very standardized, and that standardization is not limited to institutional learning alone; corporate learning and development portfolios lean very strongly toward providing homogenized experiences as well.

Both K-12 and professional organizations have been offering focused curricula, assessments, and learning opportunities with essential benchmarks to ensure that every learner is passing the same milestone requirements at the same rate whenever possible. After all, without standards, we cannot measure progress or expect consistent results. However, standardization is on the decline and individualization is on the rise because every single learner has different needs. The problem with standardization is that learners come from a variety of backgrounds and learning preferences; education is not a one-size-fits-all process or experience. There is no such thing as a “standard learner”.

The pendulum of learning theory continues to swing. Its momentum over the past decade has been steadily pressing toward investment in individualized learning and development experiences, versus standardized experiences, to account for unique differentiation in demographics, learning styles, cultural backgrounds, and individual preferences. Additionally, digital, and in turn distance, learning opportunities are becoming more and more prevalent, effective, and popular. Students want to learn the curriculum of their choice, at their own pace, wherever they are.

While individualization sounds very appealing at a glance, it is not without flaws. The problem with individualization is that it removes the opportunity for the exchange of ideas, social communications, and coordinated cooperation. There is a fine line between individualization and isolation of both social experiences and outcome consistency. When each learner is working with differentiated instruction and support, the ability to gather consistent learning data for standard evaluations and benchmarking is hindered. There’s a reason we compare apples to apples and not to oranges and bananas.

Today’s learning expectations are no less rigorous than they have been in the past. In fact, depending on the area of study, mastery requirements may be even more complex and stringent than they’ve ever been. Is it even possible to balance standardization with individualization in all this flux? The answer is yes. However, a digital publishing and learning solution must deliver the best of both worlds in order to strike that balance. Balance will provide the ability to:

  1. Consistently measure both learner participation and mastery of learning outcomes
  2. Add and remove multimedia learning objects and supplements on-demand to maximize engagement for all learners across all backgrounds in real time
  3. Communicate live, within content, to create cooperative collaboration and a true sense of community
  4. Support learners across all devices, platforms, and browsers to meet them with they content they need, when they need it, wherever they are

The pendulum of educational theory will never stop swinging, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a solution that delivers the best of both the standardization and individualization worlds. If your publishing and learning solution isn’t meeting all the requirements above, it’s time to consider READynamic™ as your publishing, management, and measurement solution.

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