Personalised, Differentiated or Individualised?

These terms are often used interchangeably, but mean very different things within the educational setting.  What does teaching and learning look like as it relates to each of these terms?

Generally speaking, personalisation is a learner-centred approach, whereas differentiation and individualisation are more teacher-directed approaches.

"When teachers differentiate instruction, learners are identified based upon their challenges in a  specific content area and skill levels.  The teachers uses existing differentiated curriculum or adapts instruction to meet the needs of different groups of learners and select at-risk individual learners" Bray, B., McClaskey, K.

"When a teacher individualises instruction, the teacher identifies the learner's needs through evaluations based on their challenges or disabilities.  The teacher reviews the findings and recommendations from the evaluations with other professional to adapt materials and instruction for the individual learner who has cognitive or physical challenges."  Bray, B., McClaskey, K.

As I work at a school for students with intellectual disabilities, I find that most of my practice weaves between differentiation and individualisation, however being mindful of personalisation and passionate about increasing student voice within learning, I do not consider myself to be fixed solely between these two paradigms.

You will see I have arranged this web-resource according to the different ways you are able to differentiate learning for students.  This can be done through context, process, product or environment; according to the students' readiness, learning profile and interests, aligning to the principles and guidelines of Universal Design for Learning (UDL).

I encourage you to explore the presentation attached below to help increase your understanding of these approaches to education, to best enable you to navigate this website.  This presentation will be shared at the AGOSCI Conference in Brisbane, May 2015.