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EdisonLearning Mar 30, 2022 7:30:00 AM 2 min read

From Research-Based Education to Personal Learning With Lee Phillips

The education industry has changed so much over the past 30 years. In that time, we have changed our perceptions of learning styles, curriculum, teaching, etc. What has been a significant factor in that change? Research.

The education industry has changed so much over the past 30 years. In that time, we have changed our perceptions of learning styles, curriculum, teaching, etc. What has been a significant factor in that change? Research.

Research-based education practice has massively increased since the ’90s. As a 30+ year educator, EdisonLearning consultant Lee Phillips has a wealth of lived memory on the topic. Lee began his career as a high school teacher in the UK. Like many educators of the time, Lee saw the need to shape a framework for a research-based curriculum. “I felt like the curriculum offered in the UK at that time wasn't meeting the needs of all the learners,” says Lee. “Plus, there wasn't a way to scale up back in the 90s and early 00’s, professional development in effective ways for all staff.” Lee wanted to leverage the ability to collect data around education, a philosophy to inform curriculum decisions, and concrete processes to teach educators best practices.

In search of that research framework, Lee joined EdisonLearning in 2007 to use professional development to improve leadership in schools using data-driven decision-making. “My big push was around curriculum learning and teaching, and how we build autonomy and capacity of teachers to deliver content that meets the needs of learners.” 

Lee’s work began by tackling the issues of the time. He found trends in research-based practices and applied a more focused approach. One of the first trends that Lee wanted to explore was learning styles. Many educators believed that students had one learning style, and every student had to be a visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learner. In reality, as Lee and the EdisonLearning team found, most students excel in various modalities in their learning. From Lee’s perspective, this represented a divide in the research at the time and how impactful it was in schools. “That exploration of research-based learning was key in understanding the principles behind learning in classrooms.” 

Lee and EdisonLearning created a framework around the individual student based on learning style, teaching philosophy, and pedagogy they found in the industry using a research-based approach. In formulating their approach, they discovered that personal learning was the best way to orientate research-based practices with what they saw in the classroom. 

“What we label personal learning is really about the agency,” says Lee. “So, it's that ability to determine where you want to get to at a given time and know the tools, skills, and capacities you have to draw on to get there.” 

Factors that have folded into the EdisonLearning personal learning model include social-emotional capabilities, project-based learning, career technical education, and more. Because personal learning is broad enough to encapsulate the newest and developing research in education, the model for perfect practice is flexible. 

Lee continues his work with EdisonLearning and has become a leader in finding pathways between research, professional development, and personal learning. Click here to learn more about our mission and refine a researched curriculum approach. 

If you have any ideas or thoughts regarding education research and personal learning, join the discussion on Twitter @Edisonlearning. 

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