In 2014, over 100 education leaders attended the Personalized Learning Summit (PLS) hosted by the Friday Institute for Educational Innovation at NC State University in collaboration with Digital Promise, the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA), and the Michigan Association of Intermediate School Administrators (MAISA).

This convening was unique in that the leaders included similar representation from industry, associations and nonprofits, and university and K-12 educators. Together, they compared experiences, discussed common challenges and barriers, explored case studies, and identified potential solutions and models that all must be addressed collectively to scale the implementation of personalized learning through technology.

Their suggestions are now available in a final report titled Technology-Enabled Personalized Learning Summit: Findings and Recommendations to Accelerate Implementation (PDF).

tepls cover“As personalized learning has made its way into the classroom, the role of technology continues to play a role in bringing personalized learning to scale,” said Jill Abbott, CEO of Abbott Advisor Group. “We have learned several important elements that make this successful, as well as identifying several pieces that still need to be reconciled. This white paper is the result of bringing together national experts to provide some recommendations and highlight some areas where the education ecosystem can focus and collaboratively resolve.”

Personalized learning is a comprehensive educational approach that puts students at the center and engages students when, where, and how to best meet their unique needs and interests.

Summit participants recognize the central human element of teaching and learning and view technology as a teaching force multiplier and a learning accelerator that can enable more efficient and effective use of learning time. “Technology is necessary to personalize learning at scale, and the Summit helped foster public-private partnerships to address technical challenges needed to translate that vision into reality for the success of all students,” said Mark Schneiderman, senior director of education policy for SIIA’s Ed Tech Industry Network.

Picture1“The discussions and case studies shared by education leaders emphasized the potential and also the complexities of implementing truly personalized learning. Human capacity is essential, and the technology, data, content, and assessment systems have to work together to support the teaching and learning in an effective way,” shared Mary Ann Wolf, director of digital learning programs at the Friday Institute.
The paper is organized around five themes, with suggested solutions to work toward specific goals: data, content and curriculum, technology architecture, research and development, and human capacity. Outcomes included development of action plans, tangible recommendations, partnerships, and furthering of participants’ knowledge.

“We’re at a great time in education, actually rethinking and re-engineering what’s possible. This document provides a starting point for transforming how we design the future of teaching, learning, and research in education,” said James Basham, associate professor at the University of Kansas.

Participants determined that the major, collective concerns to be addressed are:

  • The development and adoption of technical standards for tagging content, defining and exchanging data, and easing integration of the myriad components of the TEPL ecosystem needed to support educators, recommendation engines, and related pedagogical research.
  • Data policies, agreements, and research protocols needed to scale R&D across data silos about what works with which types of students under what conditions.
  • Redefining educator roles and supporting professional development to ensure that the human capacity needed to shift from a traditional teaching model to a student-centered TEPL model is available.

“Participating in and working with education thought leaders at the Technology-Enabled Personalized Learning Summit at the Friday Institute was a great pleasure. I’m confident that the great insights and specific recommendations from the summit will produce meaningful, learner-centered innovation,” said Steve Nordmark, Chief Academic Officer at Knovation.

“The challenges of personalized learning and balanced technology usage remain front and center for schools and they need solutions.  I’m excited to continue the work to actively seek out solutions,” shared Kathy Walter of Nsmoa.