What is Personalized Learning?

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As a curator for the Personalized Learning strand for the Department of Education’s Connected Educators Month this past October, I noticed some reoccurring questions and discussions throughout.

With all of the student-responsive platforms hitting the market, many are wondering: Is Personalized Learning about data tracking and informed, responsive instruction as some suggest? What about interest, engagement, motivation, and learner voice? Who is in charge of the learning? What does it mean to personalize learning? Is it “personal” or “personalized learning?”

The meaning that I made of the discussion is that our teaching, and the educational systems that we have set up on all levels, frequently model our own learning. Many educators see their role as being the ones who bestow information, monitor, and control the environment. From that perspective, we can feel secure in what we teach, because we confine it to what we know. When we can see ourselves as self-driven learners…who seek and quest after our own knowledge… constantly learning and reaching beyond our own walls even, and especially, while teaching… it is then that we can model personal learning and provide that classroom/school/district/state/nation where both learners and educators can expand and become empowered by their own learning. Is it as Will Richardson said in an opening session for Connected Educator’s Month (CEM), “It is hard to teach in this century if you haven’t learned in it.” How do we get there?

For many of us, it is by being connected learners, just as we are here with the Microsoft Partners in Learning site. As we become connected with other educators who are also learning and growing, we can transfer that to our students. The power of being a connected learner, as a student or as a teacher, cannot be underestimated.

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