Personalized Learning Project

What is personalized learning to me?


Working Definition of Personalized from iNacol:

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.

When I think about Personalized Learning, I reflect on the working definition from iNacol, where the focus is creating a learning environment and structure that supports each individual student. According to much of the research, moving to personalized learning takes a "commitment to students, student responsibility, and support of every student." Personalization moves to a format where the learner drives their learning - connecting learning with their interests, talents, passions, and goals. Teachers become "learning activators." Technology is used to "enable and innovate" learning. It is about changing the way teachers and students interact.

10 Trends to Personalize Learning in 2016

Rethinking Learning


"Many children struggle in schools...because the way they are being taught is in the way that is incomplete with the way they learn."

  • Peter Senge, Center for Organizational Learning MIT Sloan School of Management

Personalizing learning for students makes the classroom focus on their most "authentic self." Learning should be a personal experience for students and teachers, allowing for time, place, and pace differences. Just as communities "depend on diverse abilities and intelligences" our schools should strive to foster these individual talents. Personalized learning approach targets individual student needs - which is at the heart of why we became educators - seeing each student develop and reach their goals.


The process of shifting our school culture to one that focuses on individual students and personalized learning plans takes an entire community. Instruction needs to be based on personalized curriculum, delivered by extraordinary teachers, utilizing technology tools, supported by innovative leaders, and in partnership with our community. Much of this framework is already in place for such shift in our district.

  • Culture of competency based classrooms and mastery learning
  • Strategic blueprint commitments to support teaching and learning
  • Administration supportive of innovation
  • Creative and talented teachers
  • Online learning consortium partnership
  • 1:1 device implementation and strategy
  • Learning management system and robust technical support/infrastructure
  • Instructional resources and digital access
  • Professional development structures
  • Community and Business partnerships

According to Eric Sheninger in his book Uncommon Learning, "Culture trumps Strategy." He says without the right culture it is difficult to personalize and individualize the learning experience for students. This culture need to be built around a shared vision with these focus areas. He states Culture, Relevance, Personalization, and Sustainability are the four key ares to build uncommon learning initiatives.

FOCUS 2020 - NCUSD 203 Strategic Blueprint

NCUSD 203 Digital Learning

Uncommon Learning Creating Schools That Work for Kids by Eric C. Sheninger

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While my belief in personalized learning for students and making learning relevant has always been part of my educational philosophy, the last few months I have made a dedicated focus on learning and growing around the subject of personalized learning and blended learning. I have been actively reading articles and books; watching online videos; searching Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+; visited classrooms ; met with teachers and leaders; talked with colleagues around the country. While my beliefs have been validated, there are still many questions related to the HOW - how to move each classroom, each teacher, each family to understanding what personalized learning is about and why it is important to students of all levels - how to maintain high standards and achievement while pushing students beyond current functioning. I also realized that there is not just one model to get us there. Our goal needs to be "creating classrooms, schools, lessons that work for students." Making learning relevant leads to rigor. Relevance comes from making learning personal to students.
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Mean What You Say: Defining and Integrating Personalized, Blended and Competency Education

"The purpose of the personalized learning framework is to open student pathways and encourage student voice and choice in their education. Personalized learning is enabled by instructional environments that are competency-based. By tapping into modalities of blended and online learning using advanced technologies, personalized learning is enhanced by transparent data and abundant content resources flowing from redesigned instructional models to address the standards. By doing this, new school models can unleash the potential of each and every student in ways never before possible."

  • Susan Patrick, President and Chief Executive Officer iNACOL; Kathryn Kennedy, Director of Research iNACOL; Allison Powell, Vice President for State and District Services iNACOL - October 2013