Research shows that diversity in today’s students (e.g. socio-economic background, gender, race, and previous learning experiences) is greater than ever before. In fact, a conservative 30-40 percent of students may require an alternate learning path or support during their learning, since a diverse student body means different strengths and weaknesses for each individual student.

Personalized learning seems like a natural consideration as an effective learning option for such a high level of learner diversity. During a recent edWeb.net webinar, “Making Learning Personal for All: The Growing Diversity of Today’s Classroom,” sponsored by Digital Promise, Superintendent of the Vista Unified School District, CA, Dr. Devin Vodicka and Chief Innovation Officer at Digital Promise Vic Vuchic made the case for personalized learning as student diversity becomes a critical issue in today’s schools.

“With this level of diversity, if we don’t start building on the research and understanding of how kids vary, then we risk creating products and programs that are designed for the average,” said Vuchic, highlighting that by designing for the average student, we are not actually designing for any student.

Not Just Any Personalized Learning

However, according to Vodicka and Vuchic, in order to be effective, personalized learning must be strengthened by research and technology, which improves the precision of personalization and enables educators to explore exactly what parts of the curriculum should be personalized for students.

Vodicka described how Vista Unified School District’s journey to personalized learning began in a bit of a fog—although the community liked the idea of personalizing learning for every students, they didn’t know what it meant for the district.

(Next page: A personalized learning framework gets results)