Personalized Learning: Designs, Tools and Assessments

Learning is an ongoing process that never really ceases, and that’s the great thing about it. It goes beyond the perceived limits of school, but only if you choose to keep going throughout your life. That is where personalized learning comes in to continue and/or renew that process.

It is a very important part of personal growth and development, which leads to you becoming a better and more complete human being over time, and certainly the most fruitful way to spend your time.

What is Personalized Learning?

By technical definition, Personalized Learning is the self-regulated tailoring of pedagogy, curricula, and learning environments by learners to meet their own needs. You can also say that it is a form of autodidacticism with more thought and care put into it.

Of course, the planning must be adequate but not excessive so that the learning actually goes underway and is not halted by too much planning and thinking of what to do and where to go.

Most of the time, technology helps in facilitating this process, as well as the learning environments over the course of the process.

However, people can as easily do this with just pen and paper or even without. All of these parameters depend on your own needs, tendencies, and learning behaviors. This constitutes most of the planning process for personalized learning, so it is all about knowing what makes you tick and understand concepts most easily.

To put the process simply, you pick the subjects you need to learn and/or are interested in and go all the way with learning and becoming proficient at them.

It is best that you take subjects that are mostly related to each other so that you can combine them for your purposes, like writing and video editing so that you can make your own movies.

Learning Models

There are various personalized learning models that have come up over the years to help optimize the process. Many learning establishments have come up with their own, and it is worth taking a look at some of them. It seems these institutions seem to be focused more on children as they are the easiest to teach and mold.

EPiC Elementary School in Liberty, Missouri is a personalized project-based learning community that takes a lot from its name, with big ideas and an aim to always innovate. Its goal is to turn all learners into expert learners by empowering creativity with real tools.

They take kids from nothing to being builders and leaders, all the way to being designers and changemakers through their unique tiered studio system.

KM Explore is a k-5 elementary school in Wales, Wisconsin that is more about a generative curriculum grown from its community of learners, their families, and the educators. Its model focuses more on creating optimal learning spaces to facilitate collaborative teaching and learning.

The Vittra International Schools are 30 schools in Sweden that has thrown away the old-school classroom in favor of learning environments that foster children’s curiosity and creativity. There is much already said about the Swedish educational system, but Vittra takes it further by going for a more unorthodox and progressive approach.

There are many more establishments like these popping up all over the world, each with the motivation to create personalized learning environments that are all about fostering the love of learning instead of just getting high grades in everything without caring if students learned anything or not.

Strategies and Tools

In order to make the most of your learning experience, you should make use of certain strategies and tools to make things easier and more comprehensible. It is easy to get lost in the thick of the process, so having an overall strategy to keep you on the right track and tools to make it less chaotic and more conducive is very important for a learner.

A choice board is a simple tool that lets you track and plan your learning progress, make sense of ideas and concepts, and so on. It is a versatile tool wherein you take the idea behind an assignment or learning standard and create four choices that, if completed, will help you address it.

The best thing about it is you can use it as you go, so you do not have to waste too much time having to fiddle with it.

Project-based learning is a very good way to both learn and apply methods and techniques at the same time. Having an objective in the form of a finished product makes learning more engaging and helps the learner understand what each thing is for as it is applied to the project.

It also requires the learner to engage and communicate with others in order to complete the project, as well as do time and human management in ways that would be most effective and efficient.

Tiered learning targets lets you have reachable objectives at every level of learning you are in at the moment. Having goals that are too big can make learning less conducive and more confusing, while having goals that are either too few or too easy is a sure way to not learn as much as you could potentially have.

By breaking down your goals into chunks and arranging them by level of difficulty from the easiest to the most difficult, you can climb up that ladder and complete it.

Writing things down on paper is the ultimate method of both expression, assessment, and confirmation. Throughout your learning process, you should take notes, record your observations and insights through a journal, share your experiences with a blog, assess your progress with some quick write-ups, and so on.

The act of writing is a way for the brain to reconfirm acquired knowledge and apply new knowledge into your own ideas.

As for supplementary tools, there are none more effective and versatile at the moment than your mobile device. Whether you have a tablet or a smartphone, you can take photos and notes with it, install apps to accomplish different tasks related to your learning experience, read more material through ebooks, track your progress with something like a to-do app, and so on.

You might want to check it out; the best learning tool you can have may be in your pocket right now.


There are two ways to assess your learning progress—formative and summative. Each have their strengths and weaknesses, both of which you should be aware of if you want to take your learning seriously.

The purpose of formative assessment is to inform and redirect knowledge and practice, provide immediate feedback for both mentor and learner, and provide useful data at a frequent and continuous interval. On the other hand, summative assessment is basically like a final exam that sums up everything you have learn throughout the whole process

The drawback to formative assessment is that it is time-consuming and requires a lot of attention in part of the mentor to make sure that the learner is on the right track. While it may seem easier to just use summative assessment in that regard, the problem with using it alone is that it assumes that the learning experience for all the students is a one-size-fits-all kind of thing, which is mostly untrue since everyone learns and functions differently.

The use of both in conjunction to facilitate the learning experience seems to be the best way to make sure that students pick up the curriculum well and actually get a good deal of knowledge and practical skill out of it.