Jul 222012

Personalized Learning: What is Truly Personalized Learning?

Personalized Learning;  By Tom McDonald, Principal, McDonald Sales and Marketing, LLC

personalized learning

Recently, within the eLearning Guild LinkedIn group, I was asked to share what I mean by truly personalized learning. What a great question that was more than  happy to answer. Here is my response.

I am passionate about research proven, market proven, individual, learning performance improvement.

The reality is there are no shortcuts to effective and efficient individual learning for critical, must know content, (or advanced individual learning, using current individual learning as a baseline/benchmark)

We know that each individual participant in learning brings unique baseline knowledge/experience to each learning experience (e.g. Math/ELA). We also know that each individual participant in each learning experience, has differing abilities to learn new information (below grade/at risk, traditional, gifted; e.g. Math/ELA)

We know too, that the traditional one to many teaching approach (event based lecture, 7 day training events, page turner ppt eLearning, non interactive videos, teaching to the test, event based training with no reoccurring individual reinforcement) is not effective/efficient for individual long term learning of critical must know information.

I’ve never had an educator disagree with me that the ideal learning experience was one teacher/facilitator to one student.

In this long term, learning ideal, the critical, must know content can be individually personalized, courses can be individually created to address specific, identified, individual learning gaps ( what the individual specifically and individually does not know) and can be instructor/facilitator individually spaced, paced and reinforced over time, specifically tailored to accommodate the learning abilities of that individual with that specific, critical must know content.

In this ideal, that follows brain based, research proven, market proven. advanced/accelerated learning methodologies, each individual learning participant via professional individualized/personalized, learning facilitation, most effectively and most efficiently (in the shortest individual time possible) learns critical must know information, long term, to individual appropriate: initial understanding, fluency/mastery, recall, application, stick/behavior change, consistent with strategic, defined, individual and organization objectives.

This is instructor facilitated, truly personalized learning, over time, with instructor facilitated, truly personalized reinforcement, over time, in an instructor facilitated, truly personalized blended learning environment (F2F, webinar, eLearning, video, gaming, simulations), over time, which is supported by research proven, market proven, learning methodology (think differentiated instruction, truly personalized distributed practice, in a truly personalized, blended learning environment, all over time), is proven to advance individual learning performance.

The only problem with this approach is that it’s not economically affordable/viable ( To date, I have yet to see a research report validating the positive return on investment on this one live instructor, to one student learning model)

This hopefully, reflects what effective and efficient, truly personalized learning is and how it differs from traditional, inefficient and ineffective one to many teaching.

Tom McDonald


To Discuss how these Solutions will add value for you, your organization and/or your clients, Affinity/Resale Opportunities, and/or Collaborative Efforts, Please Contact:

Tom McDonald, tsm@centurytel.net; 608-788-5144; Skype: tsmw5752

personalized learning, McDonald Sales and Marketing, LLC