November 17, 2019

PL Defined

In Mason City Schools, we have done a great deal of research and study on different approaches to Personalized Learning. Below you will find our main influencers and information on what we believe Personalized Learning really is.


A progressively learner-driven design where learners deeply engage in meaningful, authentic, and rigorous challenges to demonstrate desired outcomes.

Mason’s definition of Personalized Learning. Created in conjunction with Allison Zmuda


What does this mean?

To help focus on how our definition truly impacts kids, we have developed a list of what Personalized Learning is and is not. 

What Personalized Learning IS

What Personalized Learning IS NOT

IS: A contemporary approach to school that recognizes those classical practices that still work

IS NOT: Repacked antiquated practices no longer relevant to modern school.

IS: A flexible design for learning

IS NOT: A step – by – step checklist or program

IS: Learner-Driven: Learners are supported, coached, and work within their network toward well-defined outcomes

IS NOT: Free for All: Learners doing whatever they want, whenever they want with no guidance from the teacher.

IS: Learners co-create learning pathways

IS NOT: Teacher prescribed pathways, playlists, outcomes, and menus of choices.

IS: Flexible modes of instruction based on learner preferences and needs.

IS NOT: One-size-fits-all modes of instruction

IS: A “right time, right size” approach to technology that support and enhance learning

IS NOT: Learners taught solely by computer-based programs

IS: Flexible pacing with guardrails that is responsive to learner preferences and needs.

IS NOT: Learners moving with no help on pacing or goals.

IS: Environmental design that encourages interdisciplinary learning: Maker Spaces, STEM labs, Collaboration Studios and more are deeply embedded in learning experiences.

IS NOT: Maker Spaces, STEM Labs, and Collaboration Studios as “special” events unconnected to learning.

IS: Leveraging a network of peers, experts, and teachers to guide and support learning.

IS NOT: Learners solely dependent on others to guide and support their learning.

IS: A culture of self-aware learners who reflect and act on their own interests, talents, and aspirations

IS NOT: A culture that limits the learners’ opportunity to connect their learning to their own interests, talents, and aspirations.