Thursday, December 17, 2015

10 Trends to Personalized Learning in 2016

Personalized learning is happening now and will expand significantly worldwide in 2016. Yet there are still different definitions for personalized learning and even some have concerns about what it means for kids. We know the main focus of personalized learning is our kids. So we are focusing on three main concepts for these trends we see for 2016 starting with learners, the teachers, and pulling together everything with culture and community that encompass the 10 Trends.


1. Discover the Learner in Every Child 
More educators will be using the neurosciences and Universal Design for Learning (UDL) instead of learning styles to understand how learners learn best. UDL when used as the lens of Access, Engage and Express helps the teacher better design instruction and for the learner to share how they learn which validates them as a learner.

The idea of goal setting and achievement is a real motivator for kids. During 2016, we will see more learners developing Personal Learner Profiles, Personal Learning Backpacks, and Personal Learning Plans. The Personal Learning Plan is not just about career and college goals; it helps kids set goals and develop skills to become self-directed learners. [Source]

2. Learner Agency Leads to Effective Learners
During our collaborative blog series with the Institute for Personalized Learning, we found there is a growing demand for learners to be able to do more than receive instruction, follow a learning path designed by educators and complete problems and assignments presented to them by an adult. We realized that learner agency is the missing link and often gets missed in conversations on transforming the educational system. It is about having a sense of 'agency' when we feel in control of things that happen around us; when we feel that we can influence events. This happens when teachers focus on learning as the goal by allowing flexibility in the pace at which learners are expected to learn. You will definitely be hearing more about "agency" in 2016.

3. Competency-based Education
The idea of moving to a system built on demonstration of mastery, rather than a required amount of time in a classroom, is drawing renewed interest from educators and policymakers alike. Competency education is rooted in the notion that education is about mastering a set of skills and knowledge, not just moving through a curriculum. In competency education, learners keep working on specific skills or knowledge until they can demonstrate their understanding and ability to apply them; they then move to the next material while continuing to use what they have already learned. [Making Mastery Works, Nellie Mae Foundation]. Assessments will change for competency-based education with a new accountability strategy called PACE (Performance-Assessment of Competency Education) that was piloted this past year by New Hampshire.

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) signed in to law on December 10, 2015 will offer flexibility for states to develop statewide competency-based education systems and new assessments for learner-centered models. Funding to states and districts is included to implement personalized learning and update professional learning for educators to support personalized, learner-centered teaching. Because of ESSA, we are going to see competency-based education (CBE) growing exponentially. What we are going to be sharing in 2016 are the examples and models of CBE and personalized learning.

4. Kids Hacking School
Kids tend to be smarter than we give them credit. Since the system was created to encourage compliancy, many kids learn right from kindergarten to follow orders and do what the teacher tells them to do. However, because of the access to information on social media and conversations with their peers, they are learning to question, be curious, and even skeptical about “school”. They also are realizing with all that is available at their fingertips, they can teach themselves what they want to learn. Many kids and their parents who are Millenials are not accessing information from traditional methods anymore. They are moving from cable to streaming video like Netflix or from news on TV or newspapers to the Internet and social media. There are examples now of kids who are designing their own learning like Logan LaPlante in Reno, Nevada who learned math through extreme sports where he is Hacking School or Adora Svitak who shares what adults can learn from kids or Jacob Barnett who was identified as autistic who taught himself quantum mechanics.

We need to pay attention and listen to our kids. We need to be open to transforming learning for all of our kids because it is their future not ours. When teachers change the learning environments to focus on the learner and give them voice and choice, more learners will present what and how they want to learn. 2016 is the year where we will see the door to creativity, curiosity, and innovation open for more kids.


5. Educator Competencies and Learner-Centered Teaching
The development of Educator Competencies for Personalized, Learner-Centered Teaching identifies the knowledge, skills, and dispositions that educators need in order to create and thrive in effective personalized, learner-centered environments. We will be writing about the Competencies that are organized into four domains—Cognitive, Intrapersonal, Interpersonal, and Instructional along with the guiding principles developed by the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and Jobs for the Future with the interactive version at Students at the Center Hub.

Digital Promise offers micro-credentials to provide competency-based recognition for professional learning that provides teachers with the opportunity to gain recognition for skills they master throughout their careers. The micro-credentials provide teachers a new way of demonstrating evidence of learning through the eyes of their learners. They share examples of work and reflections from learners along with their own reflections.
2016 will be the year where teachers will be reviewing the competencies for their own professional learning and demonstrating evidence of learning. We will also see a change in teacher evaluations moving from teachers being accountable of test scores to a collaborative community of learners based on these competencies. ESSA that we mentioned in #3 eliminated test scores for evaluations. We definitely will be writing more about this and what it means for our learners and their future.

6. Delve Deeper into Learning with Voice and Choice
continuum-choice-duckworth.jpegLearner voice gives learners a chance to share their opinions about something they believe in. There are so many aspects of "school" and "learning" where learners have not been given the opportunity to be active participants. Some learners, especially those that are concerned about extrinsic factors like grades, may not feel comfortable expressing their own opinions. Giving learners voice encourages them to participate in and eventually to own and drive their learning.

Providing choice can be confusing. If learners are choosing from a set of pre-planned choices from a computer program or a list of options from the teacher, then the teacher is ultimately the one responsible for the learning not the learner. As learners increase responsibility around voice, teachers can also provide a process that builds ownership as learners move toward agency with choice. 2016 will be the year we see more examples and strategies of learner voice and choice along the continuum around the world.

7. Blended Learning under the Personalized Learning Umbrella
There has been confusion around Blended Learning AS Personalized Learning where technology actually is key to supporting moving to and implementation of personalized learning. Blended learning alone may not be personalized or learner-centered. Technology will expand tremendously over the next few years around the world and how technology will be used is going to change. When learners take more responsibility for their learning, you will see less use of adaptive learning systems driving the learning. Learners will start realizing that they can “google” for information. But what they need to do is acquire the skills to be able to research what is “non-googleable” -- to determine if the information is authentic, valid, and relevant.

We will see more schools using social media, allowing smartphones and developing BYOD programs in 2016. We will also see Makerspaces and STEAM grow as an integral part of the curriculum. 2016 will be the year that defines how blended learning and technology supports the implementation and growth of personalized learning ecosystems.

Culture and Community

8. Common Language
Personalized Learning is a culture shift. It is about transforming teaching and learning. To move a school or district to Personalized Learning Environments, all stakeholders need to have a common language and understanding around personalized learning in conversations inside and outside of school. Just like the phrase “It takes a village,” it takes the whole school community and key stakeholders to develop a shared vision and belief system to transform teaching and learning. We will see more examples like RSU2 in Maine that invite communities to build the common language across their district.

Personalizing learning that changes how teachers teach and learners learn affects everyone in the community. Change is hard, but change is necessary now for our kids and their future. Watch for more stories in 2016 about how schools and districts are developing their common language around personalized learning.

9. Building Citizenship
Democratic societies need active, informed and responsible citizens; citizens who are willing and able to take responsibility for themselves and their communities. Learners of all ages can learn to become active citizens or change agents when they become aware of how they can contribute and make change in their own communities or even the larger global community. Citizenship activities at any age often results in personal pride that they made a difference and that their lives truly have a purpose. Democracies thrive when citizens are actively involved in their communities.

Kids want to make a difference. They can choose a challenge or problem they decide to investigate by going out into the community and asking what the problems are. We will also see more projects like the Center for Place-Based Education or Place-based education where learners are immersed in experiences through participation in service projects for the local school and/or community. In 2016, we will see a growth in local, national and global projects where learners investigate the places where they live, discover ways to contribute to society and to build citizenship.

10. Community as School
School is starting to look different. Society is based on learning, communities are held together by learning, and people construct identities through learning. [Eckert, Goldman & Wenger] When you think of school, you may think of bell schedules, tests, curriculum and a teacher directing the learning. School is becoming more a learning community for learners and teachers. Now the community is becoming school. There are community service learning projects that are required for graduation. The community offers opportunities to bridge learning with meaningful, authentic, real world activities.

Extended Learning Opportunities (ELOs) are a core component of community schools and seek to use the school as a vehicle for increasing learning opportunities for learners through the acquisition of knowledge and skills outside of traditional classroom instruction that includes apprenticeships, internships, mentors, community service, independent study, online courses, performing groups, and private instruction.

2016 will see more programs like the 10,000 Mentors that Fred Bramante launched in New Hampshire, and activities where learners can challenge a course with work experience or community service.  You will see more communities sharing how learning is changing locally and globally.


Throughout 2016, we will be taking each one of these trends and elaborating on them in future posts. So expect some interesting posts and maybe even #plearnchats around most of these concepts sprinkled with stories, examples and models. We encourage input from you and maybe we can share some of your stories and journeys on our site. Contact us at and comments are very welcome below.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Join us in the conversations and share your feedback: