The 6 Hallmarks of Personalized Learning

Understanding and & Implementing Personalized Learning Purposefully

Personalized Learning is one of the most popular terms in education technology — but it’s used in so many different ways, to refer to a number of different approaches or solutions. Most educators can agree that personalized learning is important, and it’s a top priority for learning communities across the country. But what exactly does personalized learning mean? How can you bring it to your classroom in a genuine, meaningful, and transformative way?

Janet Pittock, McGraw-Hill Education Curriculum Director, and Cassondra Corbin-Thaddies, McGraw-Hill Education Director of Professional Learning, have some ideas to get you started. First, they suggest thinking of personalized learning as an action: it’s an ongoing process that involves student-teacher collaboration. They also suggest thinking of personalized learning as it exists on a continuum — with varying levels of optimization, depending on technology use and teacher-student roles.

Janet and Cassondra recently teamed up to create a detailed and clear guide on understanding and implementing personalized learning. It’s called: “Personalized Learning: The Journey to Student-Centered Instruction”, and contains key definitions, a diagram of the personalized learning continuum, and a breakdown of what they call the six hallmarks of a personalized learning environment. Scroll to the bottom of this blog to find the full guide, or read on for a brief overview:

Defining Personalized Learning

To begin, we need to first take a look at how Janet and Cassondra are defining key terms. Here are a few that you’ll find in the guide:

Personalization: The learner and the teacher collaborate to drive learning and determine needs, plan, and learning design
Individualization: The teacher drives and accommodates learning design for an individual learner
Student Centered: The student has a significant choice in the goal, pace, and design of instruction
Competency-Based Learning: Students demonstrate that they have gained understanding and skills to progress. The learning environment is designed to build proficiency, and students may take several different approaches to gain the appropriate level of understanding and skills

Notice that in these definitions, personalization is, at its core, about true student-teacher collaboration. When teachers have established relationships with students, and collaborated to create a meaningful design for learning, that’s when education technology can make personalized learning scalable.

The Continuum of Personalized Learning

In the guide, you’ll find a comprehensive breakdown of the continuum of personalized learning. Cassondra and Janet ask you to understand personalized learning as existing somewhere on a spectrum, ranging from traditional, to transitioning, to innovative. Where your classroom rests on that spectrum depends on how student or teacher-directed your instruction is, and whether you’re relying on grade level objectives or competency-based education. In the guide, Janet and Cassondra also explain the difference between a traditional classroom and an innovative classroom in the context of personalized learning.

The Hallmarks of Personalized Learning

In the guide, Cassondra and Janet go in-depth with each of the six hallmarks. Here, we’ll give you a quick preview:

#1: A Rich Network of Professional Development and Supports for Teachers
#2: Collaboration Between Teachers and Students Around Learning Design
#3: Competency — Based Education (CBE) and Frequent Rich Use of Data
#4: Technology Infrastructure
#5: Use Technology in Transformative Ways
#6: Expanding the Variety of Implementation Models

For the full guide, see below:

For more on personalized learning, watch our full corresponding webinar:

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