Across the country, states are supporting local efforts to redesign K-12 education around student learning with personalized learning and competency education. By shifting away from an industrial-era education model and toward personalized education, we can build a system that provides each student with powerful, transformative learning experiences that prepare them for a lifetime of success.
What Is Personalized Learning?
Personalized learning is tailoring learning for each student’s strengths, needs and interests–including enabling student voice and choice in what, how, when and where they learn–to provide flexibility and supports to ensure mastery of the highest standards possible. Students have flexible learning environments, embedded within their communities, using a variety of modes, resources and modalities to accelerate learning. Personalized learning is about equity–ensuring every student has the same opportunities to succeed with differentiated resources and instruction that meet them where they are.
In personalized learning, educators use powerful tools to personalize instruction and utilize real-time data for feedback to intervene exactly where each student needs it most, giving students more instruction and support when they are struggling.
Each year, iNACOL surveys thousands of educators, leaders and experts to inform and push our understanding of the field. These practitioners identified the following essential components of personalization:
- Student agency
- Differentiated instruction
- Immediate instructional interventions and supports for each student is on-demand, when needed
- Flexible pacing
- Individual student profiles (personalized learning plans)
- Deeper learning and problem solving to develop meaning
- Frequent feedback from instructors and peers
- Standards-based, world-class knowledge and skills
- Anywhere, anytime learning
- Performance-based assessments (project-based learning, portfolios, etc.)
Personalized Learning Resources
As a knowledge-building hub for practitioners, iNACOL advances the field by curating and creating information that inspires and encourages the development of personalized, competency-based learning environments.
iNACOL is pleased to share the following resources that equip and empower educators, leaders and policymakers to catalyze and scale personalized learning models:
Personalized Learning Resources for Getting Started
- Mean What You Say: Defining and Integrating Personalized, Blended and Competency Education: This report explains the nuances of key terms used across the field of K-12 education related to personalized, blended and competency education, and how the ideas integrate in order to create new learning models.
- Personalized Learning: What It Takes to Get Started: What does it take to plan and operate a successful personalized learning program? Experts provide resources and tools for getting started in this webinar archive.
- Equity is at the heart of personalized learning. Check out these two blogs on how personalized, competency-based education ensures equity:
- What is possible with student-centered learning systems? These two blogs explain why this transformation is so important and the four tenets for student-centered learning, based on mind/brain sciences, learning theory and research on youth development:
- Providing Transformative Personalized Student Learning Opportunities as a Path Toward Equity: This blog explores how new instructional models provide more powerful, personalized learning experiences driven by learner needs and interests to ensure innovation for equity.
Personalized Learning Resources for Teachers and Leaders
- Powerful, Personalized PD for Teachers: Discover tips, tools and best practices to personalize professional learning and prepare for the shift to personalized instructional models in this archived webinar.
- Realizing the Promise: Making Personalized Learning Accessible to All Learners: Watch this webinar for a conversation with national experts on making learning accessible to students with disabilities, and ensuring the personalized learning environments that they create are equitable.
- Teachers Know Best: Making Data Work for Students and Teachers: This archived webinar highlights findings from a Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation report that encourages K-12 innovation by helping educators, school leaders and product developers better understand teacher perspectives surrounding the use of digital instructional tools in the classroom.
- Student-Centered Learning: Functional Requirements for Integrated Systems to Optimize Learning: This report illustrates the technical requirements and functionalities that learning management systems need to shift toward student-centered instructional models.
- Chugach School District: A Personalized, Performance-Based System: This paper explores how an Alaskan school district shifted from a traditional K-12 education system to a personalized, performance-based system, embedded in the culture of the community, which led to increased student achievement.
- Enabling Anytime, Anywhere Learning through the Personalized Learning Framework: In this webinar, LEAP Innovations shared how their recently released personalized learning framework, co-designed with teachers and experts in personalized learning, drives a new paradigm in K-12 education.
Personalized Learning Resources for Policy Leaders
- Promising State Policies for Personalized Learning – This report is a valuable resource for state policymakers—whether they are seeking to create conditions in state policy to support personalized learning, moving forward with initiatives to develop personalized learning pilot programs, hosting task forces to explore policy issues and needs, or taking a comprehensive policy approach for supporting advanced personalized learning models. (An Executive Summary can be found here: Promising State Policies to Advance Personalized Learning.)
- Innovation Zones: Creating Policy Flexibility for Personalized Learning: Innovation zones open up flexibility in state policy for local districts to have the space to redesign systems that support personalized learning and competency-based education. This issue brief highlights what innovation zones are, how they are used and examples of who is using them.
- Vermont’s Comprehensive, Statewide Approach to Personalized Learning: In 2013, Vermont passed legislation to pursue a comprehensive statewide approach to personalized learning. The state continues to engage local stakeholders to implement these policies in the pursuit of preparing all students for success. Learn about their journey in this blog post.
- How States Build Local Capacity to Implement Personalized Learning: In order for personalized learning to be successful, educators must understand their shifting role in the classroom. This blog post highlights state strategies to build capacity to implement personalized learning.