NOW READING: 7 Clear Guidelines for Defining Personalized Learning for Your School

7 Clear Guidelines for Defining Personalized Learning for Your School

Learning is a very personal experience, and it should be. It follows then that personalizing learning is all about tailoring task and instruction to the range of interests and learning styles that characterise today’s modern learners, and doing so in creative and engaging ways. Unfortunately, when it comes to actually defining personalized learning, the discussion becomes more complicated. Many educators have different ideas about what it actually means.


Laura Ascione from eSchool News cites a study from Education Elements that succeeds in defining personalized learning in clear plain language. Communicating Personalized Learning to Families and Stakeholders: Terminology, Tools and Tips for Success provides a guide to having meaningful and constructive conversations around adopting personalized learning as a classroom practice. It’s purpose is to avoid confusion and misunderstanding while working toward whole-school inclusion.

Begin With Defining Personalized Learning

“Personalized learning is a pretty well-known term,” Laura states. “But educators have different definitions for personalized learning, making for a sometimes-confusing approach to its implementation.” As we see it, here are the main qualities that succeed in defining personalized learning:

  • It’s tailored to the learner's interests and capabilities in a way that connects to curriculum.
  • It offers relevant tasks that encourage a shift of responsibility for learning to the learner.
  • The pacing is designed to accommodate the learning speeds and styles of every child.
  • It can incorporate technology to successfully connect to learners’ interests.
  • Formative assessments that include both self- and peer-conducted methods are utilized.
  • Students take a certain amount of control over what they learn and how they learn it.

Personalized instruction is a versatile approach to learning in which our responses to learner variance can take many forms. It isn’t necessary to tailor every single progression or activity of the learning challenge to each individual learner, either. You can personalize the task, learning process, research, assessment, evidence of learning created, the learner’s collaborative role, or any combination of these.

7 Guidelines for Defining Personalized Learning

The following guidelines appear in the Education Elements study as the methods for defining personalized learning for admins, teachers, parents, and students. They can help lead the conversations you have about personalized learning in your own schools.

  1. Focus on the future: Personalized learning ensures students are adequately prepared with the knowledge and skills they need for college or career.
  2. Personalized learning can provide parents with a concise picture of how their child is progressing, Furthermore, it will improve opportunities for collaboration with teachers and peers, and ensure high levels of engagement.
  3. Students end up taking much more responsibility for their learning. Instruction is tailored to individual strengths and interests to keep learners more engaged. Additionally, the learning pace is flexible in order to ensure they have thoroughly learned the material.
  4. Personalized learning also provides teachers with the flexibility and tools they need to successfully meet their learner’s needs.
  5. When defining personalized learning, district leaders should make sure their vision for personalizing learning is clear and that the “why” is commonly understood. Develop messaging that makes sense and that isn’t steeped in jargon. Next, customize your message to staff and principals so they don’t need to start from scratch.
  6. School leaders should discuss personalized learning whenever they can. Include examples in newsletters to highlight how it helps students, and take the focus away from the technology involved. Share success stories that appeal to the heart of why personalized learning works.
  7. Teachers should also talk about personalized learning as much as possible. Help your students understand why things are different. While you are among the best messengers, your students can be a huge asset because what they perceive and what they say really impacts what families think. Invite families into your classroom and show them how you are supporting their children with personalized learning approaches.

Making the Shift

Personalized learning is also one of the 10 shifts of practice we discuss in our latest book Future-Focused Learning. If you want to begin getting your feet wet with personalized learning, this is the resource that helps you do it right.

We begin by discussing what personalized learning means for your students and your practice. Next, we provide you with activities or “microshifts” that help you adopt personalized learning and 9 other innovative practices easily and safely. As you gain more and more success with it, you move to other activities and eventually other shifts. That’s how real transformation happens in learning, and in your classroom.

You can start making your own shift to personalized learning today, and we’re here to help. Check out Future-Focused Learning: Ten Essential Shifts of Everyday Practice now on Amazon.


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