A Beginner’s Guide To Personalized Learning

personalized-learning-guide-fiA Beginner’s Guide To Personalized Learning

by TeachThought Staff 

There is a difference between personalized learning and differentiation.

Differentiation is a kind of personalized instruction, where teachers adjust process, & product, according to a student’s readiness, interest, & learning style. Planning of the learning starts with the content, and the content remains the same for all students. This is a school and curriculum-centered approach that attempts to amend the delivery of the content to match the student’s needs, strengths, and general readiness.

Personalized learning starts with the learner and asks the question, “What does this student need to understand, and how best can that happen?” This is a student-centered approach, and is built around the idea of recognizing the vast differences in students–not just in terms of literacy or schema, but an authentic need to know.

In that context, consider the above graphic from Mia MacMeekin (who also gave us 27 Simple Ways To Check For Understanding). It frames the idea of personalized learning around the who/what/where/why/when series of questions, and then separates things again into three categories:

  1. What is personalized learning?
  2. How to personalize learning
  3. Examples of personalized learning

In this way, it represents an excellent beginner’s guide to personalized learning. The fact that it’s highly visual and limited to brief questions and examples makes it all the more readable, shareable, and fun. Give Mia’s site a visit, and let her know what you think!

A Beginner’s Guide To Personalized Learning 



  • I love the, what is personalized learning graphic! Personalized learning is about focusing on what the student wants to learn and then helping them challenge themselves to think deeper about those things. We can help students grow and broaden their strengths and areas of interest from there through questioning and designing learning experiences based on conversations, observations, and reflections. Instead of teachers deciding “What does this student need to understand, and how best can that happen?”, it is about asking, “What, why, and how does the student want to learn, and how can I help them experience growth within that?” This allows students to experience seeking their best self and the successes and failures that are a part of an authentic learning process.

  • Great Graphic about personalized learning! One question I have, is how we can integrate this in public school classrooms? To me, a good classroom will have the resources to differentiate; however, a great classroom would have personalized learning.

    To the Staff, I would love to see any suggestions you have in a group setting for personalized learning. Or is personalized learning mutually exclusive to learning with multiple people?

    • I’m not staff, but personalized learning does not need to be mutally exclusive to learning with multiple people. Personalized learning just means that you connect people to learn together at the appropriate times and on topics they all need to cover together. You personalize the grouping so that people complement eachother for better overall understanding.

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