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Individualized education

Individualized education, or adaptive education, is an education system based on the belief that everyone has his own natural and right course of learning, and no one should be forced to learn in a so-called “standard way”.

The individualization factor in the five i’s, namely interactive, intuitive, intelligent, integrated, and individualized.

A realization of the value of individualized learning is of course nothing new, and hardly a worthy motive to become a business. The biggest question of individualized education is its enablement, that is, what makes it possible and workable.

If one were to have true individualized learning, one would desire to hire the best teacher in the world to instruct a child on a one-to-one individual basis. But that is not a realistic education model.  Even if one could afford it, it is hardly a justifiable use of resources in a society.

Along with the discussions among the founders during the last two half years, a core idea took place: 

It is possible to automate much (if not all) of the teaching using computer and network technologies.

The automation will be based on digitalization of not just information but also some of the pedagogical intelligence.  This automation will be the enablement of individualization. Without automation, individualization is a mere ideal.

The goal is to make the learning as effective, interesting and motivating as possible using innovative education technology (edtech).

But on the other hand, we believe learning should not be a worldly push to make a child “better than others”.  Every child is a special gift from God and has his special gifts received from God. While educators have an obligation to help the child to develop in the most loving, caring and effective way, the goal is to allow the child to grow as a person.

I believe making learning effective and more interesting an opportunity for both parents and children to develop in other areas which may be more important.

In this regard, I am a dissenter to the current Chinese education system. The Chinese education system does not educate to make people better individuals, better workers, better citizens, better husbands and wives, better friends and coworkers.  It just educates to produce better exam takers. It takes a few winners and honor them, and throw away the rest as if they were losers and waste. That’s sad and harmful.

The problem is that people are all on this train, most even realize the train is going at a wrong direction, but no one dares to jump off the train and no one is capable to stop it .

To change the current Chinese education system is too grant a goal for us common people. But we belief that if we develop an effective system that enables people to gradually move to a different direction, real changes could take place, at least on individual levels.

Just imagine an AI supported system that always knows where the child is (what she has learned and what she has not and needs to learn the next). I called the system “Dr. Learnomics”, or just “Dr. L”.

Dr. L never forces long lectures on the child but instead provides the most relevant information whenever needed; he always encourages, not merely verbally but with a gaming-like rewarding system; and Dr. L is infinitely patient. Dr. L doesn’t and can’t pretend to love the child as a parent would, but he makes it possible for parents to be concentrated on “loving”, the job a parent is best equipped to do.

As we would envision, when fully developed, the Dr. L would be almost as interesting as an electronic game, but entirely different from games in that it actually teaches children useful knowledge; it would be almost as fun as an electronic toy, but entirely different from a toy in that it has virtually inexhaustible content and therefore the child will not be bored after just couple of days.

Learnomics may cover all aspects of education, including K-12 (幼学 ,小学,中学) , colleges (大学), specialty studies (专学, such as professional training),leisure studies for seniors (闲学), and special education. Together, Dr. L would cover lifetime learning.

In the beginning, however, the primary focus should be on the elementary school math, which is the best candidate for a proof of concept.

Dr. L should be in every home because it will be particularly suited for homeschooling.

Parents choose homeschooling due to concerns of the right environment to bring up a child to have the right kind of values, including character, personality, views of life and views of the world.  Dr. L will not attempt to tell parents how to educate their children in terms of the values, but will just focus on providing a technical enablement for parents who would otherwise be unable to do homeschooling to do so.

For those who already do homeschooling, and AI supported individualized learning system will be a great resource and a helper. And for those who are presently not, it opens up new possibilities.