Author: Beth Herbert, LEAP Innovations
Last week Chicago’s LEAP Innovations officially launched the LEAP Learning Framework, a tool for school leaders, teachers, and education organizations to help establish a common understanding around personalized learning, and provide concrete strategies to create personalized learning experiences for students. Check it out!
For those of you not familiar with LEAP, one of NGLC’s Regional Funds partners, here’s some background: LEAP Innovations launched in the spring of 2014 with a big goal—to transform learning by better connecting innovation and education. As a nonprofit organization, we’re now working with more than 70 schools across Chicago to discover, pilot, and scale personalized learning technologies and innovative practices in the classroom and beyond.
It’s through this work that the LEAP team recognized the need to better articulate our approach to personalized learning. The term “personalized learning” has been gaining traction nationally, but there was (and still is) much confusion around terminology, as well as conflation with blended learning and other approaches. The idea of tailoring the student experience to each individual’s needs, strengths, and interests resonated with the teachers and school leaders we were working with, but they needed more support in translating these concepts into actionable strategies.
So we set out to address two key questions: What does personalized learning look like in terms of teacher practice? And what is the student experience? Our team started by leveraging the strong base of personalized learning definitions, guides, and other resources already developed by experts across the country. We then co-designed the LEAP framework with teachers, school leaders, and other national experts, relying on learning science to back its core components.
The Core Components
LEAP defines “personalized learning” as learning that is focused on, demonstrated by, and led with the learner. All of this is rooted in the idea that learning happens both in the classroom and beyond, and is connected meaningfully to peers, mentors, and the community.
Learner Connected: Learning transcends the classroom in relevant and accredited ways, connected to families and communities.
Learner Focused: Understand each individual learner’s needs, strengths, interests and approaches to learning.
Learner Demonstrated: Allow learners to progress at their own pace based on demonstrated competencies.
Learner Led: Enable learners to take ownership of their learning so that it can dynamically adjust to their skills, curiosity and goals.
Using the Framework
Actionable Strategies: Within the framework, you will find a growing set of strategies for each core component. Our team is also developing a set of tools to make the framework even more actionable for educators and partner organizations, including a library of videos we’ll launch soon that show personalized learning at work in our partner schools across Chicago.
Surveys: The LEAP Personalized Learning Surveys help measure the degree of personalization in a classroom. There is a version for teachers to measure practice and classroom conditions, and there is a version for students to measure how student experience aligns to teacher expectations. Both surveys are available as resources to personalized learning classrooms and schools across the country, and are administered twice a year—once in the fall and once in the spring. (If you’re interested in using these surveys, see the Resources section below.)
The surveys were developed in partnership with American Institutes for Research, an independent behavioral and social science research and evaluation organization. They were piloted with Chicago teachers and students in spring of 2015 and were further informed by expert-teacher focus groups as well as interviews with students and teachers to check for understanding and look for biases.
National Standards: The surveys were taken by students and teachers across the country for the first time this past fall, and will be administered again later this spring. This summer, we will use the resulting data to develop, again in collaboration with experts, a set of national standards for personalized learning. The standards will capture and codify best practices for the field, and further inform measurement of personalized learning.
LEAP Learning Framework website - Download a copy of the framework and the corresponding strategies. Find sample questions from the surveys. Complete an interest form to take part in the surveys when they’re administered again this fall.
- LEAP Innovations’ Phyllis Lockett Explains Why Personalized Learning Matters
- 3 Personalized Learning Schools in Chicago
- Chicago Schools Are Rethinking K-12 Staffing and Scheduling
Beth Herbert is a founding member of the LEAP Innovations team and is currently their director of communications. She believes strongly in the power of personalized learning to transform education, and brings more than 10 years of experience to supporting LEAP’s mission. Follow LEAP on Twitter @leapinchicago.