Thursday, February 19, 2015

Personalize Learning on the Dr. Will Show

What a fun time we had as guests of The Dr. Will Show on Feb. 18, 2015 -- as part of a Google Hangout.  We really appreciate his thought-provoking questions concerning personalized learning. We highly recommend watching his show and even being on his show. He's a great host and the time just flies by.

Here's some of the questions Dr. Will asked us with a few of our answers:

  1. Can you define personalized learning for us?
    That one was easy for us. We just read our definition that was on p. 34 of our book or we probably could have gone on for the whole hour. :o)

  2. Why was it important to make those distinctions between personalized learning, differentiation, and individualization?
    We shared our PDI chart that is on the inside of the front cover and shared some of the differences. The main distinction is that differentiation and individualization are teacher-centered and personalization is learner-centered.

  3. How can personalized learning be done to scale?
    We talked about the culture shift that happens when you personalize learning. Teacher and learner roles change. This is more of a transformation than reforming the current system. It is more than putting technology in kids' hands. They need to learn the skills to become self-directed learners. Teachers need training, resources, and ongoing support.

  4. What is the teacher's role in personalize learning?
    The teacher becomes a guide, a facilitator and a partner in learning. This is a process so we shared our Stages of Personalized Learning chart. Stage One is teacher-centered with learner voice and choice. We call this dipping your toes in personalized learning. It takes time to change how you teach and maybe one lesson at a time. We introduced Universal Design for Learning (UDL) as the framework for personalized learning.

  5. What is the learner's role in personalized Learning?
    The learner becomes more responsible for their learning so they become more self-directed and an independent learner.  We shared why we call "students" "learners." Students are taught to be compliant and they "do" school. Learners take an active role in their learning. They co-design their Personal Learner Profile with their teacher.

  6. With these new roles, what does the classroom environment look like?
    We shared that when the teacher and learners know how they learn best, they redesign the learning environment to meet all the needs of everyone in the class. Several examples included Lisa Welch's and Wanda Richardson's K-1 multi-age co-teaching model at KM Explore that they call "ageless and gradeless." We mentioned that a personalized learning environment sounds like a coffee shop. There is a hum with activity happening in multiple types of learning spaces.

  7. Where is personalize learning happening?
    We referred to Chapter 4 in our book because there are so many examples and models we share there. We shared several such as RSU2 District in Maine that is a K-12 performance-based system with a transparent curriculum. They have competencies aligned to measurement topics for every grade level. Mt. Abraham Union Middle/High School in Vermont that has designed a personalized learning program called the Pathways Program where high school learners design their pathways to graduation.

  8. Where do you see personalized learning within our K-12 system in two to three years?We referred to our recent post on 10 Trends to Personalize Learning where we see more and more districts re-thinking their vision and asking us to guide them in the design of a shared belief system. More schools are taking risks and looking for opportunities to develop pilots or models. We have models and journeys on our website and have been hearing from teachers, leaders, and researchers who approached us to share their findings. It is very exciting!

  9. What is your advice for teachers and administrators who are interested in implementing personalized learning?
    Personalizing learning is not a new initiative or fad. It changes the culture in your schools. The first thing to do is to build your vision and make sure you involve all stakeholders in the process to create a shared belief system. To transform teaching and learning, you need a commitment from everyone. We shared what we do, our services, our book, and the 5 W's of Personalized Learning eCourse. If you are curious about how we can support you as you personalize learning, check out our Services page.

Thank you Dr. Will!!

Check out more of Dr. Will's interviews at and follow Dr. Will on Twitter @iamDrWill

Don't miss our Twitter chat using #plearnchat on 2/23 at 7pm ET on Multi-age classrooms with Co-teaching teams.