“Personalization of learning and emerging technologies are engaged in a policy handshake that must be examined.”
This article by Phil McRae – The Politics of Personalization in the 21st Century – has been one of the most useful reads I explored in a while in relation to the way technologies are used – even justified – in classrooms. It made me think long and hard about the way we talk about e-learning and the assumptions behind some of the throw away lines that we sometimes use.
The article, in short, explains how the concept of personalisation is “struggling for identity”, that it is not a theory or a set of teaching approaches but, rather, a process that is still under construction.
The origins of the term are explored and this is where it gets really interesting. The concept is purportedly intertwined with ideologies related to user-driven frameworks related to health and public services other than education, especially in the UK. An overview of the way its sits in the Alberta administration in Canada is also outlined.
The author highlights the way technologies and personalisation have become intertwined to become a central strand right up to policy level.
“While considering personalization and technology, we need to think about the role of critical thinking, diversity and chance (serendipity), and their importance to learning and society, and to the long-term implications of driving digital personalization (customization) in terms of the future of public education.”
There is a call for educators and policymakers to:
- stay focused on pedagogy and the best interests of the students – we can’t talk about personalisation without thinking about socio-constrictivism and the shifting roles of students in the schools
- foster critical thinking in students so the technology they can access day and night is not limited by filters and tailored search
- understand that personalisation can drive the discourse that justifies technology and that an all-pervasiveness of access to tech needs to be balanced with space and stillness.
Further reading of interest
On 3 November 2011, the Crowther Centre for Learning and Innovation and the Victorian Council of School Organisations (VIccSO) co-hosted a roundtable discussion involving twenty five participants and a wide range of stakeholders to explore personalised learning.