The consulting firm Education Elements designated four factors as the keys to successfully integrating a personalized learning model, based on its experience with 100 districts, 300 schools and 300,000 students. Those four elements—flexible content and tools, targeted instruction, data-driven decisions and student reflection and ownership—are the Core Four of Personalized Learning. A framework built around the Core Four provides schools with definitions, details and direction, including actionable ideas, tips and insights from districts who have successfully implemented the four elements.
The Core FourFlexible content and tools Instructional materials can be customized to individualize path, pace and performance tasks and allow for a variety of ways to demonstrate knowledge authentically. Targeted instruction Instruction is aligned to students’ specific needs and goals to create a learning environment where all individual needs can be met. Data-driven decisions Teachers use data to inform instructional decisions. Students can review their own data to make learning decisions. Student reflection and ownership Students have frequent opportunities to reflect on what they are learning and to set goals, cultivating ownership of their education.
Using the guide set out in the Core Four white paper, school and district leaders can clearly communicate what a shift to personalized learning will entail. Teachers can easily understand what’s expected of them and the results they are trying to achieve. Educators are encouraged to personalize the program based on their needs and strengths.
However, they are advised against trying to pursue all four elements immediately. Instead it’s a ramping up process that can start from any of the focus areas. The framework illustrates a starting point, then goes deeper and explains what all-in means for each focus area. It outlines how the elements of the Core Four should be viewed as spectra that are accessible immediately in small ways, building on what is already working in individual schools and classrooms.