Personalized learning has become a hot topic of conversation concerning K-12 philanthropy. Personalized learning started to gain notoriety after the Gates Foundation and Chan Zuckerberg Initiative contributed financial donations to help support this style of learning.

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative has contributed to multiple personalized learning projects and helped fund Chiefs for Change and the College Board. The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative also works closely with the Summit Learning Platform.

Defining Personalized Learning

While personalized learning is commonly referred to as structuring the lesson plan around a student’s individual needs, that might not necessarily be true in every circumstance. Some teachers have structured their classrooms so that students are working on different things. Some students may be working on a collaborative learning project while others are doing independent work. While personalized learning does not have to include technology, instructors have noted how much of an asset technology has been to personalized learning. Technology has helped teachers become more innovative with their lesson plans.

Historians point out that personalized learning may date back to the early 1900s. Personalized learning tools are used by different schools in the United States, as well as other parts of the World. The personal learning schools have started to attract engineers. The Carnegie Corporation has helped support New Profit, Learning Accelerator, and Power My Learning. These organizations have implemented learning techniques that are used to analyze the primary strengths of every student, as well as their goals.

Over-Reliance On Technology

Some advocates would like to emphasize that technology should not be seen as a replacement for teachers. The most powerful relationship is still teacher and student. Power My Learning has said that the technology’s primary goal is to strengthen the relationship between teachers and students.

Moving Forward

Critics of personalized learning point out that it is too early to tell if this style of learning will make a difference. Research has shown that students in personalized learning settings have achieved growth in their math and reading skills. However, student-teacher discussions in the personalized learning schools haven’t varied too much from the traditional method. Proponents of personalized learning point out that these are still the early stages.

Personalized learning plans to help close the achievement gap between lower income school students and affluent school students. The Summit Learning Platform notes that some strategies will last while others will eventually be dissolved over time. The future of personalized learning is yet to be determined.