​Larry Cuban’s ‘Personalized Learning Continuum’

Personalized Learning

​Larry Cuban’s ‘Personalized Learning Continuum’

Mar 28, 2017

PERSONALIZED WHAT? When Larry Cuban, an emeritus professor of education at Stanford University, was visiting Silicon Valley schools in 2016, he noticed that “No one definition of personalized learning monopolizes the reform terrain,” he wrote. To make better sense of the phrase, Cuban has come up with the “Personalized Learning Continuum,” a framework for thinking about the ways in which classrooms, schools and programs implement and define personalized learning.

At one end of the continuum, Cuban says are “teacher-centered lessons within the traditional age-graded school.” Educators with this approach may jump between calling their classroom competency-based or personalized, but what remains is their end-goal of using online and offline lessons “anchored in discrete skills and knowledge and tailored to the abilities and performance of individual students.” These models include the Virtual Learning Academy Charter School in New Hampshire and Lindsay Unified School District in California.

Across the other end of the continuum are “student-centered classrooms, programs and schools… asking big questions that combine reading, math, science, and social studies while integrating new technologies regularly in lessons.” These programs, Cuban describes, incorporate lessons that focus on cognitive, psychological, emotional and physical development, and also “seek learning that comes out of student interest.” Examples include High Tech High in San Diego, which focuses on project-based learning, and the Khan Lab School in Mountain View, Calif.

Then there’s the grey middle area, or “hybrid programs” that incorporate elements of both student and teacher-guided instruction. These schools and classrooms also often “combine online and offline lessons for individual students and teacher-directed whole group discussions,” such as those taught by Mountain View High School English teacher Kristen Krauss or Montclaire Elementary School second-grade teacher Jennifer Auten.

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