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Personal Learning Plans 


A 21st Century Learning Community optimally exploits “electronic tools” (tools like the Internet and the Cloud) to improve the ability to learn the skills we need to thrive.

Table of Contents on This Page


What’s Actionable on this Page

  • Understand the key foundational activities of a Learning Community: Focusing, Filtering, Dynamic Course Updates, & Defined Learning Communication Codes.
  • Begin to see how you can apply the Learning Community approach to your life, the lives of your family, friends, and/or co-workers.


A Learning Community uses an Open Source Algorithm to assign meta-tags to information so it can be more easily filtered and focused to help maximize each of our unique learning opportunities.

Personalized Learning Plans

Personal learning plans (or PLP) are one of the absolutely necessary foundational elements of a thriving Learning Community.

PLPs are critical to the Learning Community because the PLPs drive the “Filtering” and “Focusing” process.  By knowing the goals of the receiver, information can be valued based on the likelihood it will promote achievement of those goals. And the PLPs need to be as long term as possible.  Their is no reason way everyone cannot have a PLP for their life long educational journey.

How Are Personal Learning Plans Created

Typically personal learning plans are developed in collaboration with teachers, counselors, employers, and family —as a way to help achieve short- and long-term learning goals.

Personal learning plans are based on the belief that learners will be more motivated to learn, will achieve more, and will feel a stronger sense of ownership over their education if they decide what they want to learn, how they are going to learn it, and why they need learn it to achieve their personal goals.

While personal learning plans may take a wide variety of forms, they tend to share many common features. For example, when developing their plans, learners may be asked to do any or all of the following:

  • Think about and describe their personal life aspirations, particularly their collegiate and career goals.
  • Self-assess their individual learning strengths and weaknesses, or reflect on what they have academically achieved, excelled at, or struggled with in the past.
  • Identify specificlearning gaps or skill deficiencies that should be addressed in their education, or specific knowledge, skills, and character traits they would like to acquire.
  • List or describe their personal interests, passions, pursuits, and hobbies, and identify ways to integrate those interests into their education.
  • Chart a personal educational program that will allow them to achieve their educational and aspirational goals while also fulfilling school requirements, such as particularlearning standards or credit and course requirements for graduation.
  • Document major learning accomplishments or milestones.

Purpose of Personal Learning Plans

The general goal of a personal learning plan is to bring greater coherence, focus, and purpose to the decisions learners make about their education.

For this reason, plans may also include learning experiences that occur outside of work or school: such as internships, volunteer opportunities, and summer programs students want to pursue or books they would like to read. For a related discussion, see learning pathway.

Start with Standard Templates

To help our community members develop personal learning plans, the community provides a number of Personal Learning Plan templates that help the learner map out the most appropriate learning plan.

Learning Plans are in Constant state of Review and Modification

Personal learning plans are continually revisited and modified to reflect changes in learning needs, interests, and aspirations.

Suggestions for Traditional School’s Adoption of Personal Learning Plans

Personal learning plans should accompany a wide variety of school-reform strategies and philosophies, including differentiationpersonalized learningrelevancestudent-centered learning, and voice, among others (to more fully understand the rationale motivating the use of personal learning plans as a reform strategy, we recommend reading these entries). In many cases, the completion, monitoring, and modification of personal learning plans takes place in advisories—regularly scheduled periods of time during which teachers meet with small groups of students for the purpose of advising them on academic, social, and future-planning issues.

Schools may use personal learning plans to achieve a wide variety of educational goals, including the following representative examples:

  • They want students to take greater responsibility for their education, be more thoughtful and goal oriented about the educational choices they make, and use their time in school more purposefully.
  • They want teachers to have a better understanding of the interests, learning needs, and aspirations of their students so they can use that information to teach andsupport them more effectively.
  • They want students to challenge themselves and consider learning opportunities they may not have considered otherwise.
  • They want parents to be more engaged in planning their child’s education and more informed about their child’s interests, learning needs, and aspirations.
  • They want students to have a clear direction in their education so that they meet expected learning standards and graduate prepared for higher education and careers.



I understand that skepticism and criticism may arise if it is perceived that personal learning plans are burdensome rather than useful tools for life management.

Personal learning plans may also be viewed negatively if they are poorly designed, if they tend to be filed away and forgotten, if they are not acted upon, if they are not meaningfully integrated into one’s life.

In other words, how personal learning plans are actually used or not used, and whether they produce the desired life improvement results, will likely determine how they are perceived.


For more lessons on how to Improve Communication see the iBooks below.  They are all free.

Natural Laws of Communication