Equity in Personalized Learning

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This summer the International Association for Online Learning (iNACOL) and CompetencyWorks invited me to the 2017 National Summit on K-12 Competency-based Education to explore personalized learning and CBE. The Summit brought together experts and leaders from across the country to focus on 4 key areas: 1) quality, 2) equity, 3) meeting students where they are, and 4) systems and policies.

I was honored and excited to be part of the equity strand and engage in discussions with colleagues who both challenged me and helped me dig deeper into my own thinking about equity and personalized learning. I believe that both personalized learning and CBE can offer ways to ensure that our educational systems reach each and every child because both place students at the center.  In order for these systems to reach students both equity and student voice must be included as central in every part of the system’s design from the beginning.

The Summit provided time to dig into equity in smaller groups and then come together with experts in other areas to start to break down siloes in design and thinking and make links across areas of the system.

iNACOL recently published a report based on some of the input and discussions from the summit: Quality and Equity by Design: Charting the Course for the Next Phase of CBE.

The report offers this description of equity in a personalized system:

Equity strategies are designed to ensure that all students, including those who have been historically underserved, fully benefit from the educational system. Common equity strategies include culturally responsive instruction, Universal Design for Learning principles, literacy across the curriculum, adult self-reflection to identify bias, and continuous improvement processes to identify patterns of inequity (Lopez, Patrick, Sturgis, 2017, p. 21).

I believe that elevating student voices, especially from students who have been historically underserved, and creating meaningful ways to engage each and every student in the design of learning are central to enacting a personalized learning system.

I encourage you to take a look at the report and to reach out to me if you want to talk student voice or equity in a personalized learning system.



Lopez, N., Patrick, S. and Sturgis, C., Quality and Equity by Design: Charting the Course for the Next Phase of Competency-Based Education, 2017.

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