Personalisation: Getting the Questions Right


Download article (.pdf) | By Tom Bentley and Riel Miller | Published in Personalising Education, OECD/CERI, 2006


According to Tom Bentley and Riel Miller, personalisation promises to overcome the uneven results of educational delivery; it will link innovation in the public sector to the changes in OECD societies. It can accomplish this task because personalisation is not merely choosing a preferred teaching method among those available; it is the shaping and combining of different learning resources around personal progression. Moreover, complete personalisation can re-cast familiar contrasts. One such contrast is demand and supply, where the user (learner) may be directly involved in the design and creation of the learning experience. Another is public and private, where boundaries and the scope of each may be re-defined.


However well-thought out the concept is theoretically, practical questions remain concerning how to approach applying personalisation to the educational system. So that the entire educational system can have personalisation, the first major challenge is to ensure that the already better-off do not dominate it. Secondly, subject diversity is necessary, but this leaves the question exactly what the variety of courses should be. Thirdly, concerning data collection, how should the educational system collect data, and how transparent should the system be?


Then, this article discusses the nature of learning, especially as society moves away from the view of ability as unchangeable and innate towards a much more active, dynamic concept. The authors look at learning beyond the classroom and the role of communities. They then consider the reshaping of roles in the educational workforce and the way that personalisation might reshape the organisational patterns of schooling and related agencies. Finally, one must conclude that the educational system will require a more responsive and adaptive organisational system in order to adopt the personalisation strategy. To conclude, the authors emphasise that the system-wide shift that personalisation could help start has the potential to be a profound transition in public education, but before personalisation can transform the educational system, personalisation requires both public interest and an implementation strategy.


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