The What, Who, Wow, Where, and Why of personalized learning provides the rationale to personalize learning. This book was not designed to give the reader the How to personalize learning, but there are many examples and stories from teachers who to show the reader how it can be done. From what we found, personalized means just that. Personalized learning looks different for each district, school, and classroom because all are unique with different teachers, learners, administrators, demographics, and available resources.
Chapter 1 – What is Personalized Learning
The What is about defining personalized learning. It is also about what is not personalized learning. It is apparent how easy it is to confuse the marketplace and frame terms so consumers believe they have to buy a product or service. This section on what is and what is not personalized learning will help readers clarify the position they want to take on personalized learning. There are programs and initiatives that support personalizing learning, but they do not personalize learning for the learner. This section helps the reader understand that there has to be a common language around the terms. Special features in this section include the Personalization vs. Differentiation vs. Individualization chart.
Chapter 2 – Who are Your Learners?
The Who is about defining learners and how they learn best. The focus for too many years has been on instruction, curriculum, and standardized tests. The learner got lost in the equation. Teachers became responsible and accountable for learning instead of the learner. This section provides the research behind the neuroscience of learning and how Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is for all learners. When learners know how they learn best and work with their teacher as a partner in their learning, they take responsibility for their learning. This section provides the research and tools to understand how you learn best and then how your learners learn best. Special features in this section include strategies to build a Personal Learner Profile, a Personal Learning Backpack and a Class Learning Snapshot of four diverse learners.
Chapter 3 – Wow! Teacher and Learner Roles are Changing
The Wow is about teacher and learner roles changing. This chapter introduces the Stages of Personalized Learning Environments as a process educators take over time. When learners have a voice and choice in their learning, teachers are no longer lecturing and the only expert in the class. In a traditional teacher-centered class with direct instruction, teachers work harder than the learners. When learners take control of their learning, the dynamics of the classroom change. The learners are working harder because they are motivated and engaged in the learning process instead of being passive learners receiving information. The Wow is about how the roles change through the stages with scenarios, examples, and stories from educators and learners around the world. When they changed, the culture in the school changed, so this chapter discusses the culture shift and how to deal with change from experts in the field and a teacher’s perspective. The Wow is all about learners and making sense of their learning, so we end with how to learn to learn and notice learning. The special features in this section include the Stages of Personalized Learning Environments chart and stories from educators and learners.
Chapter 4 – Where is Personalized Learning Happening
The Where shares how personalized learning is happening now around the world. Teachers want to see what it looks like so the chapter gives the reader examples and models of personalized learning environments on a global perspective. The common theme of the school, district, and large-scale models is that learning starts with the learner. Each model, approach, or initiative shared in this chapter was chosen to tell a story as a journey. Some models have jumped right in and shaken up their system where others are dipping their toes in personalized learning a little at a time. Some are small schools within schools. Others are complete countries. Special features in this section include the stories from people on this journey.
Chapter 5 – Why Personalize Learning
The Why is about the rationale to personalize learning that readers need before they take any steps to develop personalized learning environments. This chapter opens with the rationale for creating expert learners and how Universal Design for Learning guides the process. This chapter introduces a continuum for learners to become self-directed, independent, expert learners. It provides concerning statistics that justify why our digital and connected learners also have to be prepared for their future as global citizens. The state of education is not working for most of today’s learners. For educators to develop a shared vision, they need to have a clear understanding of where they are currently with teaching and learning. This section compares initiatives and programs in a fixed traditional system with how they could be in a flexible personalized learning environment. By this point in the book, teachers and administrators are ready to personalize learning in their classrooms. They need a good rationale to justify moving to a personalized learning environment, and this section summarizes key points to do that. The special features in this section are the continuum of expert learners and details of each section, information and statistics on declining engagement, charts comparing the traditional vs. flexible learning systems, the rationale to personalize learning, and examples of sixty-second speeches to personalize learning.
Chapter 6 – Your Turn to Personalize Learning
The last chapter is about the culture shift that happens when you turn the learning over to your learners. You will understand why systemic change causes culture shift, with specifics from experts on change; your readiness for culture shift; and why culture shift is important to connect the dots of initiatives and programs under the personalized learning umbrella. You will see why it is important to create a shared vision, belief system, and commitment to personalize learning by all stakeholders. Leaders can use the list to build their action plan. Teachers can build their own action plan and then follow strategies for how to make sense of learning. The special features in this section are the chart comparing traditional classrooms with learner-centered environments, the CBAM (Concerns-Based Adoption Model) adapted to include strategies on how to deal with concerns about personalizing learning, Fixen’s Stages of Implementation adapted to relate to personalized learning, criteria to determine your readiness to personalize learning, and a graphic describing a self-sustainable personalized learning system. The last section gives you predictions on what personalized learning environments will look like in the future. Today is the first day of your journey, and this list can be your roadmap.