Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Personalisation - a slogan in search of a meaning?

Seb Schmoller has just put an interesting post relating to personalisation in learning. In it, he cites some recent articles and a recent Guardian comment and expresses scepticism about the reality of personalisation in education.

We have looked a little at personalisation within our research the corporate learning and e-learning area, and its a topic that I feel needs much greater exploration. Firstly, I agree with your sentiments about its use as a slogan in search of a meaning. Like many of terms in the learning area, it has become used as a bandwagon without much reality of substance. A sense of a good idea, without much in the way of tangible execution.

But having said that, I also feel it very important, and in many encapsulates the shift in thinking from training to learning. If we are to make progress on the potential for personalisation, I think our research would support the view that we need to tackle it at two levels - and I feel some synergy here with your arguments and Kevin's comments. Personalisation impacts structure at the macro-level, and it impacts choices and options at the micro-level. Much of the debate about the meaning of personalisation at an institutional level is about my macro-level; the structure of services, how they relate to the learner, and the organisation providing them. Without a fundamental rethink or realignment of current structures (in both academic education and corporate training), it is difficult to see how personalisation has much real meaning or difference.

But if that is true, personalisation at the micro-level is still very important. The choices that individual learners are offered or make related to their specific learning process; the resources they choose to engage with, the way they use or interact with peers, even to a degree, the role they expect from the teacher, trainer or facilitator. These are all areas of much greater flexibility and potential for personalisation than we give them credit for - already.

We must be wary of rejecting the concept of personalisation, but we must also be realistic about understanding its challenges. My personal view is that learning becoming more personalised, is an inevitability.


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