“New learning models and instructional approaches to personalize learning have emerged and taken root in schools across the United States. What was once a handful of innovators in a few locales has grown into thousands of classrooms and schools throughout the country. … The excitement about personalized learning is real.”

A National Landscape Scan of Personalized Learning in K-12 Education in the US; iNACOL, June 2018  

The quote above nicely sums up how Personalized Learning (PL) is emerging as a vital, dynamic movement across American schools and districts, helped along by flexibility built into the federal ‘Every Student Succeeds Act’ (ESSA) and a dedicated corps of educators, administrators and others.

This new report reflects findings of research conducted into more than 80 PL schools and sites across many states, helping to distinguish sites of years-long PL implementation (e.g. New Hampshire) from those just starting to dip their toes into PL approaches. It confirms that implementing PL usually entails varied approaches, from teacher-led  to student-led, and that differences exist about the nature of PL as a conceptualization.

As an educator and administrator, I’ve advocated and implemented PL approaches in my praxis over many years, and observed its growth in fits and starts. I’m very excited by this rising tide – in the US and schools in BC (Canada) – and I observe complementary alignment with growth in personalized approaches to health care, social work, human resources training and recruitment, adult education, and other fields.

What is needed to keep this trend alive and growing is resource funding to introduce PL to educators and others, and help sustain growth and implementation. This level of support is evident in US schools, but not so much in Canadian schools where individual provinces, excepting BC, generally offer lukewarm support for PL.

What is also needed is research exploring the how, where, why and what of personalized approaches to nurturing learning – in schools and beyond. ‘Beyond’ is where learning opportunities through portals like YouTube, Outschool, Khan Academy, WikiHow, DIY.org, 4H, and many others are engaging more and more kids with the help of a couple of computer clicks.

Educators and administrators seeking to implement and support PL need to know what that world ‘beyond school’ looks like, now more than ever.

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