Personalised Learning: Developing a Vygotskian Framework for E-learning

By James Ballard and Philip Butler.

Published by The Technology Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Personalisation has emerged as a central feature of recent educational strategies in the UK and abroad. At the heart of this is a vision to empower learners to take more ownership of their learning and develop autonomy. While the introduction of digital technologies is not enough to effect this change, embedding the affordances of new technologies is expected to offer new routes for creating personalised learning environments. The approach is not unique to education, with consumer technologies offering a ‘personalised’ relationship which is both engaging and dynamic, however the challenge remains for learning providers to capture and transpose this to educational contexts. As learners begin to utilise a range of tools to pursue communicative and collaborative actions, the first part of this paper will use analysis of activity logs to uncover interesting trends for maturing e-learning platforms across over 100 UK learning providers.
While personalisation appeals to marketing theories this paper will argue that if learning is to become personalised one must ask what the optimal instruction for any particular learner is? For Vygotsky this is based in the zone of proximal development, a way of understanding the causal-dynamics of development that allow appropriate pedagogical interventions. The second part of this paper will interpret personalised learning as the organising principle for a sense-making framework for e-learning. In this approach personalised learning provides the context for assessing the capabilities of e-learning using Vygotsky’s zone of proximal development as the framework for assessing learner potential and development.

Keywords: Personalisation, Personalised Learning, Zone of Proximal Development, e-Learning, Virtual Learning Environment, Individual Learning Plan, e-Assessment, e-Portfolio

International Journal of Technology, Knowledge and Society, Volume 7, Issue 2, pp.21-36. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.137MB).

James Ballard

Senior e-Learning Specialist, E-Learning Services, University of London Computer Centre, London, UK

James began working in e-learning at Barking College as part of the DfES ICT Test Bed Project, producing reports assessing the impact of ICT in the classroom during the early adoption phase of e-learning. He moved to University of London Computer Centre in 2007 where he has managed successful e-learning implementation projects with over 100 learning providers and collaborated on the development of the personalised learning framework adopted by many UK proivders. James has expertise of a vast experience of system integration models and interoperability standards, and has worked on technology supported models for early identification of at-risk learners, engagement tracking, and end-to-end assessment. James frequently consults with colleagues nationwide, regularly presents at national and regional conferences, and is currently studying at King’s College researching relationships between technology, pedagogy and learning. Recent external work include projects within JISC funded progammes for Transforming Curriculum Delivery Through Technology; JISC CETIS Portfolio Interoperability Protoyping; and Becta’s E-portfolios for apprentices publication.

Philip Butler

Senior e-Learning Advisor, e-Learning Services, University of London Computer Centre, London, UK

Philip Butler has worked in the post-16 education sector as a teacher, manager and adviser for 30 years. During his teaching career he developed a strong interest in Technology Enhanced Learning and was appointed an adviser for the JISC Regional Support Centre for London, becoming one of its founding members. He has provided colleges and HEIs a strong lead in strategic thinking around e-Learning and organisational responses to transformation, helping establish a strong reputation for London as a centre of high quality innovation and practice. Philip was appointed as Senior e-Learning Adviser for the University of London Computer Centre where he has assisted in developing it as the largest provider of e-Learning services to the UK education sector, along with the reputation of a centre for excellence. His most recent work has been in helping to design and develop the Personalisation of Learning framework which has quickly established itself as the most important source technical development in recent years. Philip has worked as a consultant on several national projects for JISC, NIACE, BECTA, NLN, and the DTi and has presented to conferences and meetings on a range of subjects to do with effective use of e-Learning in the UK, USA and India.


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