Customized Learning

Let’s do for learners what Apple does for music lovers, what Amazon does for consumers, and what Google does for information by organizing and delivering what we want when we want it.

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A "Day-in-the-Life" of Customized Learning at a South Dakota school:

Learner Centered

Customized Learning presents a desirable and doable vision that allows learning systems to leave the Industrial Age, time-based approach to instruction and replace it with an Information Age, learning-based system that:

  • Meets every learner at his/her learning level
  • Provides learning opportunities that sync with the learner’s most effective learning styles
  • Allows the learner to study and learn skills and concepts using content that is relevant and interesting

A “learner-centered” focus is at the core of customized learning. This focus reflects the fundamental belief that learners are better equipped and prepared for a lifetime of learning if decisions regarding teaching and learning are based on data and considerations about the individual learner—rather than the tradition and administrative convenience of the assembly line school.

While it is still essential for learners to gain subject area knowledge, it is also critical that they develop the capacity to be their own learning advocates. At TIE, this advocacy is referred to as “learner agency.” Learn More about Learner Agency

Customized Learning Services

Let TIE lead you through the entire process of Customized Learning implementation or assist with specific aspects of Customized Learning:

Professional Learning

A blended learning opportunity with face-to-face workshops and online classes for the changing roles of educators.

Structural Rebuild

A shift from an industrial model requires innovative district planning to remove barriers, enabling a customized, learner-centered environment.

Curriculum Redesign

Educator collaboration is crucial for molding curriculum, instruction, and assessment for a Customized Learning experience.

Professional Learning

While educators can participate in the Customized Learning Series as stand-alone classes, we recommend the blended-learning combination of self-paced online courses, face-to-face sessions, and facilitated collaboration to give teachers a more complete customized learning experience.

The face-to-face component focuses on important topics for teachers to truly incorporate and manage customized learning, including:

  • Higher order thinking and complex reasoning
  • Grouping/regrouping students
  • Assessment
  • Technology immersion
  • Mindsets
  • Facilitator/mentor role

Within each series, three-credits worth of the content is delivered as independent self-paced, mastery-based online classes included as a TIE Membership benefit. The other two credits utilize face-to-face and facilitated blended learning experiences contracted separately with TIE. Finally, your teachers will create an instructional product or unit that incorporates all the components from their series.

The self-paced customized learning classes are grouped into series:

 Series Virtuoso

Series Artiste

Series Guru

Leader Series (Geared for Administrators) Leaders


Structural Rebuild

The CL Structural Rebuild utilizes evidence-based materials and processes for your district/building planning team to tackle the tough issues of weight-bearing-walls like:

  • Grading practices 
  • Schedules and courses
  • Grade level assignments vs mastery levels
  • Rigid curriculum vs. flexible curriculum
  • In-school learning vs. in-world learning
  • 9-month school year vs. year-round learning opportunities

which can hinder progress toward personalized learning. A TIE Learning Specialist will work with your leadership team throughout the school year with onsite work days as well as online meetings. TIE also provides data tools to provide a snapshot of the instructional/learning practices in your district that can assist your leadership team for better analysis, strategizing, and decision-making.

Curriculum Redesign

The CL Curriculum Redesign examines the changes necessary for curriculum to support a customized learning environment. There are three major areas of focus:

  • Classroom-Specific Redesign – Facilitators/teachers work on classroom curriculum to add choice and voice for learners.
  • Standards/Learning Outcomes Redesign -Sometimes referred to as a “standards evolution,” standards are reformatted to de-emphasize grade level orientation and repetition into a usable feedback and management tool for learners and facilitators.
  • Flexible Curriculum Development – Highly flexible curriculum materials developed to accommodate customized learning in a sharable collection open and available for any facilitators and learners.

Learner Agency

Defined as possessing the mindset and know-how to act in a manner which empowers and positions learners for a life-time of learning, at the root of learner agency is the concept of self-efficacy put forward and championed by social cognitive theorist Albert Bandura and his contemporaries. Arthur Costa and Bena Kallick’s seminal work Habits of Mind captured and illuminated a set of dispositions addressing the know-how to behave intelligently when engaged with learning. 

As an investment and contribution to this effort, a team at TIE is working to clarify and build shared understanding around the term “learner agency” as it relates to learners in the context of schools committed to the implementation of Customized Learning. 

The accompanying document attempts to bring more clarity to the term “learner agency.” It and the Learner Agency Reflection Tool (or a view-only Reflection Tool) are works in progress. For TIE, this work reflects a systemic shift in how schools serve and prepare learners. Thus, it is a priority and driver for TIE’s role as an innovative and empowering partner with progressive schools across the region and country.


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