The subject of personalization deserves a preamble of sorts that recognizes what we’re beginning to understand about the art and science of learning and development:
Learning begins with the individual learner and their journey; each learner brings their unique history and context to each experience;
Learning is frequently motivated by relationship and activated in community;
Learning occurs most fully when it engages all of a student’s senses, emotions and intentions; and
Learners bring unique interests, motivations and ways of learning.
It is easy to think of personalization simply as differentiated instruction but a full commitment to supporting individual learning journeys has many dimensions. We identified 15:
1. Tasks: Providing voice and choice in learning tasks including assignments, projects and maker experiences. The challenge is accommodation without a loss of rigor (e.g. skip the 10 page paper and make a poster).
2. Culture: A place where human dignity is respected, where learners have voice and choice and a means of appeal.
3. Differentiation: Tailoring instruction to meet individual needs by adjusting the level of challenge, increasing the amount of support or making other accommodations to support learning.
4. Adaptive learning: Using adaptive assessment to quickly diagnose learning level and deliver calibrated units of learning, often leveraging gamification.
5. Pacing: Meeting students where they are, especially when they have different learning levels in different subjects, and supporting progress based on demonstrated mastery.
6. Electives: Providing an array of elective and world languages options in person and online.
7. Out of school learning: Facilitating local and global learning options including field trips, travel, after school and summer school programming.
8. Extracurricular activities: Providing a range of extra-curricular activities and emphasizing participation.
9. Work and service: Providing valuable and accessible work, civic and service-learning options.
10. Academic supports: Real-time monitoring of academic progress and providing support inside and outside the classroom environment.
11. Youth and family supports: Meeting specific needs that are a barrier to learning (food, shelter, transportation, safety, health).
12. Goal setting: The opportunity to set and reflect on academic goals in the context of an advisory relationship.
13. College and career planning: An advisory system that supports exploration of postsecondary work and learning options.
14. Demonstrations of learning: Providing options for how a student demonstrates progress on their learning journey including shaping a student led conference and curating a digital portfolio.
15. School choice: Access to unique learning models with interests (art), career themes (NAF), pedagogy (New Tech Network) or college credit (early college high schools).