By Kathy Onarheim

As we move forward in designing and implementing personalized learning, the development of a profile of the learner has been discussed as being critical in creating the processes for assessing, diagnosing, and prescribing learning.  In exploring this issue, it is clear that this idea is not new. Hundreds of models are available, including individualized education plans (IEP), individualized learning plans (ILP), and other learner profiles of all shapes, sizes, depth and direction.  Is it possible however, that in our transformative work the question should really be – What is a Learner’s Profile?

What is the difference? As educators, we have created, developed, piloted, adopted, and re-created several different iterations of profiles to be used to paint the picture of a student. Depending upon the situation, they are highly effective and indispensible – but not considered transferable without some tweaks and adjustments which then creates yet another Learner Profile model to add to the list. There are countless models and descriptions. Are they truly transformative and are they what a learner really needs?

Let’s ask the question – is it a profile of a learner (used by others), or does it belong to the learner (Learner’s Profile)? To be truly transformative, it must belong to the learner. This changes the structure and outputs of the information in the use of a profile.

Concepts of Learner Profiles to date have used assessment information, standards alignment, and recommendations of curriculum and resources to meet deficiencies in content and standards – in other words, the cumulative record of what has been achieved, leaving the decision as to what is next arbitrary. They give us a snapshot of what the learner does not know and what they know well.  With some applications, they can also direct a learner to specific resources to fill those gaps.  This is an excellent foundation upon which to build, but does not take the concept to its full potential.

While I have many personal ideas and designs of what a Learner’s Profile could be for the CESA #1 region to prototype, the work needs input and dialog from the network. At this time, I offer questions for discussion and thought in an effort to find the gold ring on the carousel. Our work together over the next several months will bring us to a prototype, and then an operational tool for learner achievement – not only for K12 students, but our adult learners as well.

  • What if Learner’s Profiles use the foundation for building, but also allow the learner to direct, design and articulate the finishing touches of their structure?
  • What would different layers of the Learner’s Profile look like? Is there a daily view? A summative view?
  • How formal is the updating of information?
  • Who contributes information to the profile? Parents? Students? Teachers? Peers? Colleagues? Supervisors?
  • What is the difference between a Learner’s Profile and a portfolio of learning? Is there a difference? Should there be a difference? (YES!)
  • Who are the users of the Learner’s Profile? Is the learner the main user?
  • Does a portfolio inform a Learner’s Profile or does it act as evidence? Or is it a tool the learner uses in maintaining their profile?
  • Does a Learner’s Profile follow one from Kindergarten to retirement and beyond? How does it change?
  • How do we create a portable profile that belongs to the learner and not the institution in which they are currently a member?

Personalized learning in its future iterations is about the learner. The learner needs a profile as their “road map” or “play list” for designing their learning in order to achieve and meet their goals. Being a learner is a lifelong pursuit. Your Learner’s Profile should stay with you from pre-school to post-retirement.

Our work is exciting! It is also continuous, utilizing a development cycle of prototype, implement, review, re-design, and implement – a process we know well as educators. Our regional Learner’s Profile version 1.0 is in action in some places now, the current work will get us to version 1.5 by December and strong planning for 2.0 by fall of 2012. We look forward to this journey with our districts.

One thought on “Learner Profile or Learner’s Profile?

  1. Tonya Liethen says:

    How do we create a portable profile that belongs to the learner and not the institution in which they are currently a member?

    I thought using slides for my students to add, alter and create information for their learner’s profile was an excellent choice. I liked that using Google allows them access anywhere, anytime, and that it is something that can follow them. Now I am wondering if using something that requires them to sign into google with their district assigned usernames, emails, and passwords, is fair.

Comments are closed.