‘Personalized Learning’ and Education Technology

The MTA opposes any partnership or initiative that will flood classrooms with technological products at the expense of skilled teaching.

The unproven “personalized learning” movement is growing.

Personalized learning that emphasizes technology and online instruction above hands-on educators is expanding with state support. In December 2016, the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education chose the LearnLaunch Institute to lead a public-private initiative, Massachusetts Personalized Learning EdTech Consortium, or MAPLE. 

Massachusetts also has a national stake in the growth of the personalized learning industry — much of which is backed by the same donors who have pushed for a rapid expansion of charter schools. Funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and contributions from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg will support the efforts of New Profit, a Boston incubator, to build and expand companies that sell technology products used in the classroom.

Despite the state-sanctioned push into for-profit education and a growing commitment of private money, it is important to note that personalized learning remains a largely unproven approach to teaching. Research has not shown that expensive technology helps improve learning. Nevertheless, donors are rushing in, emphasizing technology products over experienced, highly skilled educators.

The MTA opposes any partnership or initiative that will flood classrooms with technological products at the expense of skilled teaching.

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MTA opposes DESE's MAPLE/LearnLaunch partnership

MTA leaders oppose the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s financial support of MAPLE/LearnLaunch, a personalized learning initiative that promotes more technology products in public schools. In a letter to the DESE, MTA leaders write, “Educators should be the ones making education policy and exploring new, innovative practices. These decisions should be driven by what’s best for students, not by profit.”

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RAND report unpacks challenges and caveats about personalized learning

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Four reasons to seriously worry about 'personalized learning'

Education author Alfie Kohn says that personalized learning is too focused on technology, not children, and is really all about teaching to the test.

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