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Posts Tagged ‘personalisation

Martin Weller recently wondered out loud if more personalised learning, greater flexibility in schooling, and increased feedback was better.

His thoughts were provocative as they usually are and well worth the read. He shared them because he felt that:

we shouldn’t let these unspoken assumptions pass unchallenged, because huge industries and major university strategies which will affect thousands of learners are based on them.

I agree.

However, I disagree with what seemed to be a focus on quantity. I do not think this was Weller’s intent, but he did use phrases like “more feedback” and “more flexibility”.

Imagine if adult learning institutes focused instead on strategic personalisation, meaningful flexibility, and timely feedback. These are about the quality of learning experiences.

More is not the issue. Better is.
 

One of the best reads of 2017 so far is this blog entry simply titled Evaluating Personalization.

Personalised learning is a continuum between non-learner-provided choices and learner-directed agency.

I distill the long read to this takeaway: Personalised learning is a continuum between non-learner-provided choices and learner-directed agency. The non-learner could be the teacher, vendor, or edtech platform.

Or, in the words of the author:

…one end of the continuum is personalization for the learner; the other end is personalization by the learner

Instead of trying to outline the main points of the article, I will try to add value to it by making an observation.

In the era before current technologies like computers and phones, the focus was on providing choice. Today, edtech vendors still tout choice: pacing, content, modes, etc. The personalisation by agency — goals, expectations, strategies, evaluation — is still sorely lacking.

We cannot keep making the excuse that learners do not know what they want. If we teach them to wait to be fed, they will be lazy consumers. If we nurture them to think, they will not just critically consume, they will also skilfully catch and create.

There is another major problem with personalisation-as-choice. The options a vendor or designer provides might not actually be choices. I use an example I have cited before.

StarHub app

My current telco, StarHub, has an app that claims to provide “choices” for some cards that you can display or hide. However, if you deselect them, the app reverts to the selected state upon restart. So you cannot remove the content that is not relevant to you from the app.

While the example is from a commercial entity, edtech vendors and designers of curricula often do the same thing — they provide choices in theory that are not actually choices in practice. So even the provision of choice is not necessarily indicative of personalisation.

Learners need not wait for vendors, designers, or teachers to give them choices. With current open and/or collaborative tools like Google Apps and YouTube, learners can take matters into their own hands and find or make their own choices. In doing so, they move from one end of the spectrum to the other by creating their own agency.

This article tried to distinguish between individualisation and personalisation of learning.

It cited Couros and Zhao separately that individualisation was giving a learner different means to the same end while personalisation was letting a learner choose a different end.

I say you can call it personalisation or individualisation because the immediate semantics do not provide immediate clues to such nuanced differences. Just make sure others know whether you are providing learners a choice of different journey or/and destination.


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