Turning a Profile into a Learning Plan

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Learner Profiles are a great start when it comes to personalized learning, but not the be-all-end-all
"For a Learner Profile to be truly powerful, it must be part of an overarching learning plan that builds accountability as well as authenticity."

Increasingly, districts and teachers are recognizing that 21st century learners require a personalized, competency-based experience to thrive and prepare for life in the real world. One of the most crucial pieces to the personalized learning puzzle is a deep, individualized understanding of the learner.

Teachers must understand a student’s strengths, weaknesses, skills, passions and so on in order to plan effective learning experiences, and, even more importantly, students must build an honest, reflective, metacognitive understanding of themselves as learners in order to transfer and apply the skills and knowledge they’ve gained in school to authentic situations.

Many districts are embracing Learner Profiles as a way for students, teachers and at-home supports to come together in a collaborative space to develop a deep understanding of each learner. Learner Profiles are highly effective for teasing out areas of intrinsic interest, passion or motivation that can be harnessed to drive the personalized learning experience. They also help teachers get to know their students more quickly and foster a culture of collaboration, coaching and dialogue that makes both teaching and learning easier and less antagonistic.

However, the most effective personalized or competency-based learning support system requires more than a simple reporting interface that lists out likes, dislikes and areas of interest. For a Learner Profile to be truly powerful, it must be part of an overarching learning plan that builds accountability as well as authenticity.

That learning plan should include clearly articulated goals. Some of those goals can be general and applied to all students, such as achieving grade-level competencies, but others should also be personalized and speak to that student’s unique skill set, challenges and vision of the future. Goal-setting helps make learning targets more concrete for students and builds in accountability. Ideally, students and teachers should be regularly revisiting goals to reflect on progress, growth and the work that remains.

In order to demonstrate achievement and create a living, breathing narrative of student work, a learning plan solution should also include a file repository or artifact library that learners can use to document their educational journey. Gathering learning artifacts helps learners see how far they’ve come and gives voice to their personalized approach and unique style. Additionally, these documents provide clear evidence of learning in the classroom, which can open up opportunities to think beyond the traditional assessment model.

For learners in personalized or competency-based classrooms, strong, individualized learning plans are crucial to academic success and unlocking the potential that lies within both progressive approaches and students themselves. Creating a personalized space, like a Learner Profile, is a great start, but you’re not fully scaffolding for success until you’re using goals and artifacts to truly create a learning-focused narrative.