Personalized Learning - Steve Barkley

Personalized Learning

The New Jersey Department of Education has a pilot program around personalized student learning plans that uses the following definition:

“A formalized plan and process that involves students setting learning goals based on personal, academic and career interests, beginning in the middle school grades and continuing throughout high school with the close support of adult mentors that include teachers, counselors and parents.”

I had the opportunity this week to spend a half day with building administrators from a NJ School District examining a continued expansion of personalized learning.

One of the resources provided for the meeting was Making Learning Personal: Educational Practices That Work by John Clarke and Edorah Fraizer. You will find the entire chapter here . I believe it is worth a read.

It includes field notes from one of the author’s observations after following a high school student through an entire day of school. He concluded that ”Bart had not had a meaningful interaction with an adult all day, or with any students, from what I had seen.”

The authors also share school practices to meet students’ personal needs by creating relationships that promote:

I was interested in the authors’ comparison of the terms personalization and individualization.

“Personalized learning requires the active direction of the student; individualized learning lets the school tailor the curriculum to the scaled assessments of interest and abilities. “How much does the student direct the process of his own learning?” The answer to that question plays out in student commitment.”

Next week I will be meeting with the school board in this district examining personalized learning. Then teachers and administrators will be asked to create objectives for the following school year to increase personalization.

I suggested they consider improvements and changes in practice.

Improvement– How could we do this in a better way to increase personalization? Maybe add more student choices?

Change– What might we do outside the current structures of school (outside the box)….a real experiment? Maybe providing students with a period of time for free exploration? Students creating their own course of study?

How are you seeing teachers and systems increase personalization?

Are you exploring increased personalization for teachers?

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One Response to “ Personalized Learning ”

  1. alfie Says:

    Hey Mr Barkley,
    I am a teacher in the Southern Metro Region of Melbourne, Victoria. Personalised Learning is a Regional Priority, but is in various stages of definition, implementation etc in the different contexts that exist in the region. However in my school, we use a mixture of personalisation by the learner, and personalisation by the teacher. It is a Primary school, ages 5 to 12. We employ a mixture of inquiry based learning, student choice of workshops and ability based workshops.

    You might do to have a look at ‘Breakthrough’ by Michael Fullan, which describes an implementation of personalised learning.

    Personalised Learning is also the focus of my Masters so if you want to converse further you can catch my loosely maintained blog at

    And maybe also check out this one


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