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I agree that we don't want to lose the potential (and, in lots of cases, actual) benefits of education tailored to the needs and strengths of individuals. That's what good teachers have always done and what good education systems have supported. But I think there are lots of tensions hidden within the concept, not least of which is the contradiction between personalisation and education policies which are obsessed with buildings, systems and structures - such as specialist schools and academies. Only root and branch reform - and which is comprehensive in all its meanings and manifestations - could marry the progressive intention with the political reality. And that's another story.

Seb, 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 the 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 can have much real meaning or make much of a difference.

But if that is true, maybe personalisation at the micro-level. 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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