Personalized Learning: A 3-Step Plan

Posted on March 1, 2016, by Jessica Sanders

Many school leaders and education professionals tout personalized learning as the future of learning.

While personalized learning, in which students engage with educational content based on their needs and preferences, can be integrated into any classroom, with or without technology, here’s a three-step plan for implementing personalized learning with technology by your side.

Don’t worry. You do not need to be 1:1 to follow this plan. A few simple tech tools can get you on your way.

Step 1: Choose Your Data Tools
There are a variety of tools you can use to collect data. If your school already uses a learning management system (LMS), this is an excellent tool for gathering student-specific information. Otherwise, you can use a variety of solutions to assemble subject-specific data.

While there are a lot of subject-specific tools available, not all of them are valuable, and many have steep learning curves. The following suggestions are simple to implement and effective in the classroom environment:

When students use these tools, assessment data is collected and made available to you. With this information, you can start the personalization process, whether that dictates how students continue using the tool or how they will complete other class assignments.

Step 2: Prepare Your Learning Formats
The beauty of bringing personalized learning into your classroom is that you can use a variety of methods to engage students. While you don’t need to have every learning medium for each student figured out right away (this may change throughout the course of the year, anyway), it’s good to have your toolbox ready so you can quickly give students their options or assignments.

Some popular formats for facilitating personalized learning, include:

Step 3: Solicit Feedback
As with any new classroom integration, personalized learning is only valuable if students comprehend the information and engage with the content. Instead of making assumptions, solicit feedback from your students with these three ideas:

In-Class polls: Check in with students once a week (or monthly, quarterly, whenever makes the most sense for you) to make sure they’re getting the most out of their personalized learning assignments. Use Google Forms to do these quickly and easily, or tools like PollEverywhere to collect real-time data.

Online polls: Instead of doing structured polls, like the in-class polling options mentioned above, you can create a blog or website survey that your students can answer whenever they have time. You can change the poll question every week, or keep the same one and watch how the responses change over time. If you’re using WordPress, you can use the Poll Daddy plug-in.

Blogs: Make student reflection a regular part of the classroom. Give students a template to use for sharing how they like or don’t like their personalized learning assignments, formats, etc.

Personalized learning is an excellent technique for engaging every student in your classroom and getting them excited about learning. If you follow the data, poll students, and test different learning formats, you’re sure to make the most out of a technique that’s here to stay.

Jessica Sanders is the Director of Social Outreach for Whooo’s Reading, a San Diego-based education organization that motivates students to read more every day. It’s available to teachers, schools and districts. Jessica grew up reading books like The Giver and Holes and is passionate about making reading as exciting for young kids today as it has always been for her. Follow Learn2Earn on Twitter and Facebook, and check out their new ebook, How to Bring Technology Into the Classroom, just $2.99 on