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Defining the Purpose of Curriculum in Personalized Learning

Defining the Purpose of Curriculum in Personalized Learning

Personalized Learning  |  Curriculum Strategy & Adoption

As an increasing number of schools and classrooms shift to personalized learning across the country, educators face many questions. Many of these questions focus on the need to define the purpose of curriculum, digital content, and tools in a personalized learning setting. While educators are certainly familiar with the use of curriculum in a traditional classroom, a shift to personalized learning brings up new questions like:

  • What is the role and function of curriculum and digital content and tools in a personalized learning classroom?
  • How can we create a sense of alignment between online and offline curriculum?
  • Does our current curriculum already work? If not, what needs to change?
  • How can we navigate the hundreds of digital tools available?
  • Who should be included in discussions about curriculum to support personalized learning? 

At Education Elements, we believe the first step in the process, before you even start digging into curriculum, is having a clear vision for personalized learning and aligning everything to it. This vision should be at the forefront of all decisions related to personalized learning, including curricular decisions. In April, we published a white paper designed to reinforce those principles and strategies - Phase One: Aligning Curriculum Goals with Personalized Learning.

We are excited to share with you the second white paper in our series of three:

Phase Two: Determine Offline-online Curriculum Alignment and the Role of Digital Tools

The intent of this newly published white paper is to provide guidance for districts as they consider how to approach curricular decisions in a personalized learning environment. By leveraging the frameworks and processes identified in this paper, schools and districts can successfully navigate the selection of curricular resources to support personalized learning classrooms.

In many instances, stakeholders view curricular resources through the lens pictured below--as either online or offline. In this scenario, online resources are typically viewed as “good” while offline resources are viewed as “irrelevant” or “outdated”.



Instead, as the white paper explains, curricular resources should be viewed through a very different lens:

  • Foundational Content: Traditional core curriculum with a defined scope and sequence aligned to grade level.
  • Flexible Content: Adaptive digital content based on student mastery that provides individualized path and pace.
  • Highly Customizable Content: Teacher-customized lessons, tailored to fit individual learners’ needs, interests, and skills.

Each of these types of curriculum can be utilized effectively as practitioners carefully consider how to leverage the strengths of each to meet the needs of students.




We suggest you:

  1. Download our Guide to Selecting Curriculum To Support Personalized Learning, which outlines the three phases on which we suggest schools and districts should focus.
  2. Follow up with our first white paper: Phase One: Align Curriculum Goals with Personalized Learning Vision.
  3. Then read the newest white paper detailed above: Phase Two: Determine Offline-Online Curriculum Alignment and the Role of Digital Tools.
  4. And finally, stay tuned for the last installment: “Phase Three: Review, Demo, and Select Digital Tools” set to publish in mid July.

Wherever your district is in the personalized learning journey, we encourage you to leverage these frameworks to better consider your curricular needs, and we are happy to support you in this effort. As always, reach out to us with any questions or ideas on curriculum and personalized learning! We’d love to hear your feedback! Email us at info@edelements.com, comment on the form below, or tweet about this series at #PLcurriculum.

About Scott Johns - Guest Author

Scott is a former Associate Partner at Education Elements, who led our Personalized Learning Consulting Services in Houston ISD, Fairbanks North Star Borough School District, Kenai Peninsula Borough School District, Weld County School District 6, Uinta County School District 1, and several other projects. Scott holds a B.S. and M.S. in accountancy from Brigham Young University and an M.S. in education from Johns Hopkins University, and left Education Elements to pursue a graduate degree at Northwestern University.

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