To help every child reach their potential with a personalized education

A new report released by the UNESCO Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development (MGIEP) is calling for personalized education a human right in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Its study, “Reimagining education”, calls on policy makers to be guided by the science and recognize that learning involves both emotional and cognitive processes. Annie Brookman-Byrne learns more about the possibilities of personalized learning that are highlighted in the report, and the importance of how we discuss a child’s “potential”.

Based on the 2-year International Science and Evidence-Based Education (ISEE) Assessment that involved over 300 specialists from more than 10 different disciplines from more than 45 countries. Anantha Duraiappah director of MGIEP as well as Co-Chairperson of the ISEE Assessment Panel, clarifies how the ISEE Assessment examined the state of education as a whole instead of relying on traditional methods of assessment that focus on the outcomes of learning for students.

“The ISEE Assessment evaluated the state of education in a broad sense, rather than using typical methods of assessment which look at student learning outcomes.”

Incorporating science into the policymaking process

Due to the COVID disruptions, “many education systems are now considering the question of return,” According to Kevan Collins, who is the chair of the Youth Endowment Fund and ISEE Assessment Advisory Board member. Collins states that now is the right time to review and make improvements to education systems that are stuck in what he describes as an “slightly old-fashioned historical approach”.

The report recommends an encompassing approach to education that promotes social-emotional and cognitive development. Nienke van Atteveldt a professor of Psychology at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and Co-Chair of the ISEE Assessment panel, states that research in neuroimaging over the past 10-20 years has revealed that there is no distinct distinction between emotions and cognition. She claims that every individual “goes through a unique developmental trajectory, during which cognitive and non-cognitive functions constantly interact”. The policymakers must keep up with the latest scientific findings, van Atteveldt argues.

“The report calls for a more holistic approach to education that nurtures social-emotional as well as cognitive development.”

As per Peje Emilsson, who is the founder of Kunskapsskolan Education Sweden AB and ISEE Assessment Advisory Board Member, the report represents a dramatic shift in the way we think about what education can offer individuals instead of viewing education as providing dentists, doctors, and economists for the society. Focusing on the individual will allow everyone to reach their full capacity, Emilsson says.

Achieving the goal of personalised education

With the amount of pupils per instructor, personalized education is possible due to technology and technology, which Duraiappah refers to as “the great enabler”. He distinguishes between transmissive technologies like the ICT used during COVID – think of YouTube videos and Zoom as well as transformative platforms that interact and are based heavily on the artificial Intelligence (AI). With AI there is a wealth of the student’s behavior is recorded throughout learning, and then provide instant feedback and suggest new methods of learning. Duraiappah states that we are still in the beginning stages where the privacy of students has to be secured however, there is hope. Duraiappah envisions the possibility of a “mixed reality world” of shifting between physical and virtual space.

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