Customized learning paths allow learners to co-design with educators their learning rather than simply comply with the directions and expectations of adults. This component is designed to help learners take ownership of their learning, find greater meaning and purpose and become increasingly independent in their learning skills.
Step 1: Develop personal learning goals. The educator and learner work to develop short, intermediate, and long-term personal learning goals. Expected outcomes must be specific and aligned to intermediate and long-term goals so that the learner can see a clear path forward.
Step 2: Select activities and resources to support learning. Both the educator and the learner suggest activities and resources to use in meeting the student’s personal learning goals. Educators present what they can offer, (e.g., strategic instructional seminars, learning activities, useful resources). Learners also suggest what they might contribute to the plan, (e.g., collaborating with classmates on specific tasks, locating apps to support learning).
Step 3: Identify progress markers. The educator and learner identify markers that show progress toward meeting each learning goal. Markers are based on formative assessment data and help learners to focus on learning progress rather than simply what activities and tasks they’re doing. Progress markers also allow the educator and learner to determine whether changes in the learning path may be necessary to ensure accomplishment of each goal.
Step 4: Define how the learning will be demonstrated. The final step in constructing customized learning paths is defining how learning will be demonstrated. Early on, learners often are inclined to defer to educators on assessment matters, but as they commit to their learning goals they are likely to identify learning demonstrations and other representations that are even more rigorous than those the educators might choose.
The process of co-creating learning paths helps students develop key life skills. The discipline and organization that learners employ in planning their learning will serve them well long after they leave school to pursue lifelong endeavors.