Scaling Personalized Learning Lessons 3 & 4: Invest in Partnerships and School Leaders


Thursday, May 28, 2015 - 1:15pm

Achieving scale remains one of the greatest challenges when implementing a new personalized learning program. To address this issue, Getting Smart, in partnership with FuelEd, released a recent white paper titled, “Six Lessons from the Trenches on Scaling Personalized Learning.” Within the study, researchers compiled six key, guiding principles for successfully scaling personalized learning programs.

In addition to other key lessons, what they discovered is that is crucial to find a partner that can provide technology, content, and customization capabilities.  In addition, they found that investing in school leaders can enable smoother implementations and can boost the effectiveness of these programs.

Delivering personalized learning requires robust technology and content and many schools choose to partner with strong, yet flexible, online and blended learning solution providers to help them accomplish this. The provider should be able to supply courses and content that are customizable to help address specific student needs.  In addition, support should be available from the provider to the entire team: administrators, mentors, teachers, and students.

Partnering with a provider like FuelEd makes it possible to bring these components together seamlessly, allowing school administrators and educators to focus other aspects of personalized learning. For example, David Knoche, Principal of Springs Studio for Academic Excellence (formerly Falcon Virtual Academy) in Colorado Springs, says of his partnership with FuelEd, “I get to spend a much bigger portion of my day focusing on [the] climate and culture of the school. FuelEd takes care of instructional things. And our great teachers really make this happen. It’s a good balance.”

Through its partnership with FuelEd, Springs Studio for Academic Excellence has been able to extend course access to its students while boosting outcomes. While having a lasting and effective partnership with a content and technology solution provider will enable success despite scale, so will investing in school leaders.

Program effectiveness is deeply impacted by leadership. It is paramount that districts put visionary leaders in place at all levels: in the classroom, in the school, and in district offices. Incorporating a strong and mission-focused group of leaders can enable more effective learning with professionals and paraprofessionals who should be involved in strategic plans to address goals as well as challenges.

Principal Knoche said of visionary leadership, “Foundationally, you’ve got to love kids. Do you really know what your vision is? Ours was to ‘take care of kids.’ If you can make kid-centered decisions (not adult-centered ones), you can make progress.”

It is critical that you also invest in training and support for leadership, as personalized learning programs require the ability to adapt to new technologies and to acquire new skills. Online teacher Steve Cassity advises, “Take the first year to do training. This is a dense program, and there is much to learn.” However, a customizable learning management system (LMS) can also support teachers and aid them in professional development. Some districts, in their excitement, may implement multiple platforms, leaving teachers and support staff with multiple platforms to learn and work across. But with a customizable platform, like PEAK, educators are able to customize content and also keep track of student success and outcomes in one well-designed, user-friendly spot.

Interested in learning more about scaling personalized learning and the six key principles? Click here to download “Six Lessons from the Trenches on Scaling Personalized Learning.”


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