March 2, 2024

Personal and personalised learning

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Photo by Marshall Henrie on Wikimedia Commons

My keynote speech at the nextEd2019 conference in Lisbon was titled ‘Personalising learning in the digital age’. I explored some of the older concepts such as personal learning environments, networked learning and desire lines, before moving on to discuss some of the latest thinking around personal learning.

The event, organised by the Open University of Portugal, also featured several of the celebrated veterans of open and distance education, including Terry Anderson (Canada), Alan Tait (UK) and Albert Sangra (Spain), whose talks were highly informative and compelling in equal measure. nextEd2019 was attended by delegates mainly from Portugal and Spain, but was also streamed live to other sites including several in Brazil.

During the plenary session I was asked by a delegate to explain the difference between ‘personal learning’ and ‘personalised learning’. I explained by pointing out the marvellous structure of the
Jerónimos Monastery, just across the road from the conference centre. Having visited there previously, I could see a useful analogy. Personal learning, I explained, is walking across the road and doing an ad hoc tour of the buildings and artefacts to see what I could learn about the history and culture of Jerónimos  Hiring a personal guide who knows a lot more about the history and culture of the place, and touring it with him/her would be personalised learning. I would be scaffolded in my discovery of the place, and I might learn a little more than if I simply wandered around on my own.

Yes, it’s probably an oversimplification of the two terms, but I hope it served its purpose.

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Personal and personalised learning by Steve Wheeler was written in Lisbon, Portugal and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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