The Personalized World


It’s not just education where the term “personalized” is taking root. According to entrepreneur, Mark Levin, in an article in Technology Review, “Over the next five to 10 years, we’re going to see an explosion not only [diagnostic] tests, but the integration of tests and therapy for personalized medicine.” Take out medicine and substitute education and replace therapy with instructional interventions and you have the same concept. Why is there a new rush for personalized solutions?

For years both in medicine and in education we’ve tried to reach the personal needs of the patient or student. We just did not have the right technology. Today that’s changing. Through the genome project scientists are beginning to understand the genetic structure. This insight into the basic building blocks of life has the potential to change how we provide medical interventions for diseases such as cancer. Likewise, in education we’re at the stage where we have the basic understandings of learning. Through projects, like the Open Learning Initiative at Carnegie Mellon, we know what are the building blocks of understanding and how to deliver interventions using a digital feedback loop that speeds up the process of learning. Ananda Gunawardena, associate teaching professor in the School of Computer Science’s Computer Science Department  said. “We expect to follow the lead of the Pittsburgh Science of Learning Center, which has demonstrated that computer-based tutoring programs can provide a detailed assessment of a student’s strengths and weaknesses.”

The next phase for both worlds will rest with companies who can develop cost-effect disruptive technologies that change how we think about education or medicine. Yes, we’ve been saying that this is just down the road, but for the first time we’re seeing efforts, like the New Tech High programs or the School for One in NYC, that actually deliver a personalized program. There still remains the issue of scalability. With Rupert Murdoch putting his name and funds behind Wireless Generation, the company, that provided the personalized solution for the School of One, can this be far away? Pearson Corporation and Infinite Campus are hot on the trail as well. Is the market place is ready for this next step in the delivery of learning?

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