Special Report: Personalized Learning: 4 Big Questions Shaping the Movement

Concept fuels mix of confusion, frustration, and optimism

Personalized learning seems like a simple concept—basically, customize teaching and learning to students’ individual academic strengths and weaknesses and even their personal interests.

But the reality is that the concept is creating quite a bit of confusion and frustration in the K-12 world. What is (and isn’t) personalized learning? How much control should students have over when, how, and what they learn? And what about the potential overuse of digital tools in personalized learning programs?

Yet at the same time, there is energy and optimism around the argument that this approach is just what is needed to fuel students’ intellectual curiosity and prepare them for a world in which personalization seems to be everywhere—except in K-12 education.

That tension between confusion and optimism is playing out in schools across the country as they struggle to clarify what this concept means and make it work to improve teaching and learning.


Special Report: Personalized Learning: 4 Big Questions Shaping the Movement

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VIDEO

Personalized Learning: What Is It?
Ask a dozen educators to define personalized learning and you’re bound to get 12 different answers about why this approach to learning has strong benefits and real risks for students. Watch the video.

Education Week Experts

Subject-matter experts featured in this report include:

Teachers, principals, district leaders, policymakers, and researchers are really struggling to clarify what personalized learning means and how to make it work in classrooms.
November 7, 2018 – Education Week

For some, such variety is reason for optimism. But others warn that loose definitions could lead to incoherence and ineffectiveness in the classroom.
November 7, 2018 – Education Week

Worried about students' social detachment in technology-driven, personalized learning environments, some schools are weaving social-emotional support into lessons.
November 7, 2018 – Education Week

A Chicago charter school that emphasizes personalized learning has delayed introducing new technologies for the past two years and emphasized social skills.
November 7, 2018 – Education Week

Educators are wrestling with tough questions as more schools embrace personalized learning and its accompanying belief in giving students more control over their academic experiences.
November 7, 2018 – Education Week

Before personalized learning became a priority in Providence, R.I., classes were extremely scripted. But with stagnating test scores, the district was searching for a better way.
November 7, 2018 – Education Week

As "personalized learning" has taken off, education and tech companies have applied the term broadly and imprecisely, contributing to confusion in the K-12 marketplace.
November 7, 2018 – Education Week

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