What Is Personalized Learning (and What Isn’t) with Summit Learning?

What is Personalized Learning with Summit Learning?

One of the questions Summit Learning gets asked most often is, “What is personalized learning?”

The best way to answer that question is to first lay out what personalized learning isn’t, at least when it’s practiced correctly.

Personalized learning — especially with Summit Learning — isn’t a teacher sitting on their hands and letting children run the classroom. Teachers aren’t handing over control of school time to students, letting them watch whatever their heart desires while teachers look on in silence.

Secondly, personalized learning is not just a piece of software. While the Summit Learning Platform is tool that helps the learning process, it’s just that — a tool. And just as a car won’t run without all of the parts that make up an engine, software on its own can’t drive a child’s education.

Finally, personalized learning is not an experiment. It is a proven idea that’s backed by over a hundred years of education research, and probably some of your own classroom experiences.

Think back to junior high — were you one of the kids who could read something once and retain it perfectly? Then lectures likely weren’t as effective for you. Or maybe you excelled whenever you were able to do some project with your hands, which made every in-class video a snooze fest.  No matter which student you were, finding out how to learn in the way that best fits you meant that you’d be able to really understand the lesson.

Personalized learning is an approach to teaching and learning that utilizes solid one-to-one mentoring, flexible classrooms, and cutting-edge technology to create an environment where each student can succeed.

How Personalized Learning Works

A successful personalized learning program is built on students, educators, and mentors building deep connections and working as a team.

These mentors, usually a teacher or school leader, set up weekly one-on-one meetings with every student they oversee. These help to ensure not only that the student is doing well at home and at school, but they also allow the mentor to work with a student to find the way he or she learns best.

Once a student has found the best way to learn, the flexibility of every personalized learning classroom allows students to put that idea into action. This means, after a lecture or classroom discussion, different students within a single class could be completing different projects about the topic, each tailored to their learning style. And that’s where the technology comes in.

Technology in a personalized learning classroom supports each student in owning their learning path. Without it, every teacher would have to develop, write, and grade a completely different assignment for every student. But with the right platform as a support, teachers have more time to do what they do best — teach.

Think back to your time in school again; every classroom had some students that excelled and some that needed additional help. With properly implemented personalized learning, the teacher is able to work directly with those students that need some extra time instead of letting them fall behind.  

Now that you know what personalized learning is (and what it isn’t) the question becomes, why do we do it? And that answer is a lot easier.

Personalized learning is at the core of the Summit Learning process because it not only supports teaching a school’s or district’s curriculum,  this approach helps teachers guide students in discovering how they learn best. And knowing how to learn is an essential skill that students need when they go from the structured world of middle and high school to the world of college and career.

Read more about the science behind the Summit Learning approach.

About the author

Summit Learning
Summit Learning
Summit Learning is a research–based approach to education designed to drive student engagement, meaningful learning, and strong student–teacher relationships that prepare students for life after graduation. Created by teachers with experience in diverse classrooms, Summit Learning is grounded in decades of research about how children learn. With Summit Learning, students gain mastery of core subjects like math, history, English, and science, while also carefully developing the skills and habits of lifelong learners. Summit Learning is independently led and operated by the nonprofit, Gradient Learning.