Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

What Does Personalized Learning Mean to You?

February 03, 2016

The concept of personalized learning isn’t new. But thanks to new tools, many teachers are seeing excitement and eagerness around learning from their students—some of them for the first time. And in schools across the country, personalized learning is empowering more students with the skills they need to succeed.

At Dallas Independent School District (ISD), personalized learning is more than just an idea—it’s a culture. It’s about helping students take ownership of their learning. And most importantly, it’s about encouraging students to take responsible risks that help them discover their passions and interests.

“Personalized learning has been really exciting for our students,” said Marissa Limon, personalized learning coordinator at Dan D. Rogers Elementary. “They love having their voices heard.”

Teachers at Dallas ISD are embracing their role as facilitators rather than just lecturers, actively providing students with real-time feedback and one-on-one support. Instead of speaking at rows of students, teachers are now working with smaller groups to make sure every student is where he or she needs to be.

And the learning doesn’t stop in the classroom. Dallas ISD offers its students access to an online learner profile portal with information on assignments, grades, and progress toward personal goals set by the student.

The value of personalized learning is in the opportunity that it gives students to pursue their passions and interests at a pace that supports their individual needs. Alexander, a student at Dan D. Rogers Elementary, explained why the model works for him: “I like to learn by hearing, I don’t like to learn by seeing. I’m an auditory learner. I just feel really comfortable doing it like that—that’s how I learn better.”

Instead of forcing all students to learn the same way, we should celebrate the learning differences that are unique to each student like Alexander. 


Thanks to personalized learning, students are finding their voice, and teachers are seeing it pay off in the classroom. 

“I’ve never had a classroom like I’ve had this year, and I really feel that we have made some strides and progress in learning itself,” said second grade teacher Diana Calderon, who now serves as assistant principal at Albert Sidney Johnston Elementary. “[This year] has been the most engaging, wonderful experience as a second grade teacher.”

We all learn in different ways. That’s why more and more teachers are abandoning the one-size-fits-all approach and finding new ways to put their students at the center of learning.

Personalized learning gives teachers an opportunity to reinvent their classrooms and make learning relevant and exciting for students. Because when students are empowered to carve their own paths, the opportunities are endless.  

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