Personalisation and Digital Technologies

The Nesta Futurelab publication on Personalisation and Digital Technologies takes the approach of identifying a learners charter “setting out a range of potential entitlements for young people in a personalised learning environment”.

This approach is taken in response to an identified risk that learning technologies will be “easily navigable only by those with the relevant economic and cultural resources.” – in other words, we need to be proactive if we are to address the spectre of the digital divide.

The charter identifies four key areas:
1. choices (learner voice and choice)
2. skills and knowledge (curriculum)
3. learning environments (pedagogies and institutions)
4. feedback (assessment and recognition).

The paper rightly recognises the fact that “it is perfectly possible to use digital technologies to reinforce any manner of educational approaches”. I would argue that instinct of institutions are to control how and what students learn and seek to exploit the technologies as tools for compliance. In all this, the student voice tends not to be heard.

Digital technologies should be a counterforce and I would argue that a fifth key area should be added to the charter something along the lines of ‘learners in control of empowering technology’. If this isn’t the case, then institutions will impose a view of personalisation that far from knocking down the “walled garden” simply re-builds it albeit in a slightly different shape.

2 thoughts on “Personalisation and Digital Technologies

  1. Jonathan Furness

    I think I’d argue against the fifth element being essential, as technology is deemed an enabler or tool for supporting a personalised learning approach, and indeed many learning situation. Personalisation isn’t about the technology, but student pathways and choices.

    I worry too that personalisation is another way of institutions imposing choices on students, rather than students being empowered to do this for themselves. However, there is a tension between the resources made available by the institution and student desire. Some understanding or agreement on both sides will surely need to prevail?

  2. Stephen

    Hi Jonathan, “Personalisation isn’t about the technology, but student pathways and choices.” I think we agree about this – it isn’t about a particular technology, but it is about having control of the technology – many of us have suffered when it is controlled by others:^)

    Personally I hope that these technologies will cause major disruptions within institutions as without that I can’t see their being a fair readjustment of the balance of power between them and the students / staff. Then maybe yes, it might be time for some “understanding or agreement on both sides”!


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