Personalized learning is tailoring learning for each student’s strengths, needs, and interests—including enabling student voice and choice in what, how, when, and where they learn—to provide flexibility and supports to ensure mastery of the highest standards possible. (Norford and Marzano, Personalized Competency-Based Education, p. 1)
Personalized learning places students at the centre of the learning process and provides an environment, pedagogy, and curriculum that meets the individual needs of students. This approach recognizes that no two students learn the same way or at the same pace. It also recognizes that, for students to succeed, they must be engaged and invested in their learning.
In a personalized learning environment, learning is focused on the needs, strengths, and aspirations of each individual student.
The students play an increasingly active role in designing their own educational path, while increasingly being held accountable for their own learning success. As active participants of their learning, they work with teachers to understand learning outcomes, to create questions from these learning outcomes, to clarify what will be measured and how it will be measured, and to develop a learning plan that will allow them to achieve the desired result.
Inquiry-based learning is an approach that promotes inquiry, the creation of ideas, and observation. The process typically involves open investigations aimed at answering a big question or solving a problem. These investigations require that students learn how to develop questions, to go looking for information, and to identify possible solutions.
Personalized inquiry-based learning is an approach that encourages students to engage in deeper thinking and to build the competencies needed to succeed.
This approach therefore requires elaborate planning characterized by structures put in place to
- respond to the cognitive, social and emotional needs of each learner
- see the child as a whole and to reflect the child’s psychosocial development
- provide a learning environment that is learner-centred in which each student can learn to become responsible for their learning
- that offers necessary limits while remaining open to innovation and new ideas in which each student can reflect on their learning and develop competencies needed to transfer this learning into their daily lives
Using “big ideas” as a starting point, students learn through practical projects that require them to gain a thorough understanding of the subject so that they can apply what they’ve learned in the real world. This approach engages students in formulating questions, looking for answers, building new understandings, and communicating their learning to others, while developing skills in critical thinking, collaboration, communication, and reasoning, as well as synthesis skills and resilience.
Personalized inquiry-based learning engages students deeply, and, because this approach creates a culture in which failure is an integral part of the learning process, students learn to take appropriate risks.
Research suggests that this approach increases students’ creativity, autonomy, independence, and problem-solving ability, and that it develops innovation and imagination. Students become more engaged and responsible for their learning. Students learn to learn and become active members of a learning community that focuses on each other's strengths.