Personalization is officially the new “IT” word in education reform.

Grant makers want to fund it, policy makers are trying to define it, and apparently all the cool kids are doing it. In the immortal words of 80’s rap group Public Enemy, Don’t believe the hype!

The path to personalization is steep – part aspirational and part science fiction. The sooner schools acknowledge how far they are from authentic personalization for all students, the sooner they can develop a plan and identify the tools needed to get there.

While many school systems would like to start personalizing learning from day one, we have found that their schools and teachers naturally progress through three innovation frontiers on the path to personalization: technology-enabled, blended and personalized.

path2pl-v3
These frontiers are not linear; e.g., many schools have dove into personalization without using any technology. That said, schools that successfully scale personalized learning often take 1-2 years expanding one frontier while conducting small pilots in the other two. If you are a school district interested in personalization you might not know where to begin.

Here’s what the first year of your journey could look like:

Activity 1: Develop the digital literacy skills of all staff and students (tech-enabled frontier)
Common core assessments are online and the majority of college applications are digital. Teachers students and families must commit to integrating technology into the learning experience. Digitize assignments administer online assessments offer computer science electives  and develop processes for effectively managing devices today.

Activity 2: Find a place for adaptive digital content in your curriculum (blended frontier)
Evaluate multiple digital content options and pilot a few free options in traditional classrooms. If the learning impact of digital content looks promising consider designing an instructional model that supports deeper integration of digital content and offers more personalized learning time.

Activity 3: Prototype and test the utility of individualized learning plans (personalized frontier)
Assemble a cross-disciplinary group of teachers to design an individualized learning plan template including systems for maintaining and acting upon plan activities. Begin to answer questions like: what type of information should we know about every student that will help aid their development? Is this really useful? Pilot the plan with a subset of students have them manually update it and get their feedback. Continue iterating until teachers, parents and students feel the plans offer sufficient value.
Using this general approach, in one year you will have a strong technology foundation for exploring new innovations along with several pilot insights to build on as you seek to expand the adoption of personalized learning practices in frontiers 2 and 3.

Where is your district on the path to personalization for all students?
Contact info@masterydesign.org to design a path to personalization that is right for your schools.