Personalized Learning: The Future of Education

My non-educator friends sometimes ask me what is the future of education. I’ve been thinking about this question the past couple of months. Living at the start of the information age has really changed everything that we do. I think back to 1983 when I was in grade 10 in high school. I was part of the first computer class in our school’s history. We were working with Apple IIE computers. I remember the floppy disks and the lack of any software. I spent much of the semester writing code to have my name flash on the screen. I also made some nice cassette case covers for music mixes I made with an early word processing program.


Apple IIe (courtesy of Wikipedia)

I am now mid-career in my 50s and carry an iPhone, that has 3 GB of RAM compared to the Apple IIe with almost reaching 64 KB. The notion of touching the screen to access files, video conferencing, uploading and viewing videos to someone who was a teenager in the early 80s, is like science fiction. How could my high school prepare me for a future that is so different 30 years later?


Access to almost infinite amounts of information in the forms of video, texts and images changes the role of school. Teaching and learning has moves from instructor-driven to instructor-guided and the learner becomes a creator of their curriculum along with the teacher. Students today can set their own goals and monitor their own learning with the support of an adult.

This trend towards personalized learning will only become more pronounced in the years to come. I listened to an ASCD podcast interview with James Rickabaugh talking about his book, Tapping Into Personalized Learning: A Roadmap for Leaders. He outlined what personalized learning should look like in schools.

  1. The role of the teacher the majority of the time should be Mentor In The Middle with Sage on the Stage and Guide on the Side taking less time as before.
  2. Students focus on skill sets, not just learning how to behave. “commitment more than compliance”
  3. Teachers focus on the progress of their students, not on exposure to instruction.
  4. Learners should be convinced they can learn anything.

#4 is a key point. I see more lifelong learning and “micro-credentials” will be needed for professionals and so when our students leave school, there will be no lesson plans in the work place and they will have to design their own learning. Customized learning paths with students co-planning and goal setting with the teacher is where education is heading. The idea of disciplines will also begin to fade away with a focus more on skills, ideas and solutions-based/project-based education.



Association of International Schools in Asia Annual Meeting


Heads of School and Athletic Directors discuss issues during the joint meeting

The Korea International School hosted the heads of schools of our high school activities conference, the Association of International Schools in Asia. SOIS is a founding member along with the Yokohama International School, Seoul International School and Busan Foreign International School. There are ten events held yearly, mostly sports, including basketball, swimming, soccer, volleyball, cross country running, and mathematics/leadership.

One of the major topics was child protection. This is a growing concern of all international schools, as there have been several high profile child abuse cases in schools in East Asia. One of the best features of AISA are the homestays, where students from visiting schools stay with host families. Homestays are the center of the intercultural understanding and friendships that are developed during these events. Graduates of our schools often maintain contact with friends they made during these homestays. In order to maintain this program, we are taking steps to minimize the risk for students staying in private homes. We made the rule that students must stay with at least one other student from their school. With at least a pair of students together, both the student and host family is protected.


Departing Teachers Display



Air quality was another topic as sometimes air pollution is a concern for the schools in Seoul. It is not a big problem in Osaka, but something we will add to our student wellness program. The Korea International School shared their policy with us and we plan to adopt some of their procedures.


Herb garden in the cafeteria


Another feature of these meetings is the opportunity to tour the host school and pick up ideas. I got a good one for honoring departing teachers, with this beautiful display. The departing teacher photo with where they are going is featured and below is some information about their replacement. They also had a very impressive engineering and design hub with 3-D printers, a robotics laboratory, etc.

The heads of school agreed that we should try to collaborate on a science/robotics AISA event to add to our current activities. It was a successful year of collaboration and competition amongst our schools. The connection with schools in Korea and Japan greatly enhances all of our schools.



Managing Stress – A Workshop for Parents

Mr. Mecklem the principal and I gave a presentation to parents during our Visitation Day last week. The pdf of the slides presented can be viewed below. The workshop was a follow up to the work Mr. Mecklem and OIS counselor Melissa Lamug have been doing with our MYP students. My big take away from making the presentation is that one’s outlook on stress is the most important factor. Viewing it as a “performance-enhancer” or something exciting to propel you to do your best is a much healthier outlook than looking at stress as something bad or unhealthy.

Finding ways to clear your mind and taking care of your body through proper sleep, exercise, the arts, etc.  is also important.



Sustainability Tastes Delicious!


The Eco Club sponsored a Sustainable Living and Cooking Workshop during Earth Week.

What does it mean to make a sustainable dish?

  • The less processed the better. Requires less energy to create and packaging to transport and is better for you.
  • Requires minimal resources to produce. Ex. Veggies require significantly less land and water to produce than animal products.
  • The lower on the food chain the more sustainable. Growing plants or animals to feed to other animals to grow them is very energy intensive/less sustainable.
  • Locally produced and healthy is more sustainable.
  • Organic will require fewer resources and have fewer impacts on health and environment than non-organic foods
  • Plan ahead to decrease food waste.


Thanks to all of the teachers and students who taught recipes and techniques and Ms. Rumble, sponsor of the Eco Club for leading the event!




OIS Graduate Runs Track at Chapman University


Freshman sprinter Aki Shigeyama runs on Wilson’s Field track during a practice. Photo by Grant Sewell

Former SOIS athlete of the year, Aki Shigeyama is continuing his sporting achievements in university. The 2017 graduate runs the 200 and 400-meter sprints for Chapman University in Orange, California. He was recently featured in an article in the university newspaper, The Panther. You can read the article here. 

OIS is proud that Aki is excelling in track and field and his studies this year! Congratulations!