Over the last several years there has been a growing awareness that not all students learn in the same way. As teachers, curriculum and classrooms have adapted to reflect different ways of learning, educators have struggled to attach a name and method of delivery to this new tailored approach.

Terminology such as Differentiation, Individualization, and Personalization, have been used to describe this change, but what do they mean? The seemingly interchangeable nature of these terms creates uncertainty among educators and concerned parents.

Recently our Learning Environments team had the opportunity to visit with Barbara Bray, co-author of Make Learning Personal. Bray provided great insight into the differences between these approaches and how each can have a unique and specific impact on the classroom—when applied with the right understanding.

OWP Personalized LearningAccording to Bray and her co-author Kathleen McClaskey, there is much confusion around the term “Personalized Learning”. In a Personalized Learning Environment, learning begins with the learner. The learner understands how they learn best which allows them to be active in designing their own learning goals. The learner has a voice in how they prefer to access and acquire information, and a choice in how they express what they know and how they prefer to engage with the content. When learners own and take responsibility of their learning, they are more motivated and engaged in the learning process.

Bray posits that Personalized learning is a unique and ground breaking approach in that it not only individualizes the learning a student receives (ensuring that they have the opportunity to match their learning style with the delivery of instruction) but that the student is empowered to take ownership of that process. In effect, the student drives their own learning, thus becoming a self-directed learner, who identifies their own goals and path to achievement.

Bray and McClaskey have created a tool to better visualize the differences between Personalized, Differentiated, and Individualized learning, which they provide as a free resource on their website. You can find that tool here: http://www.personalizelearning.com/p/toolkit.html


At One Workplace we are big believers in the power of individual empowerment, and the impact active learning environments can have on the individual learner. A self-driven and personalized education is a very different experience; not one that is fostered in a traditional arrangement of space, with rows of desks facing in the same direction. Movement is key. Student empowered movement—where a child can exert influence over the position, location, and configuration of their own place of work or study.

Want to learn more about how the classroom environment can adapt to personalized learning?

Feel free to reach out to us at yrneavat%25barjbexcynpr%23pbz@no-spam.com