Perspectives on Personalised Learning – ELE06

Personalization: How Far Should We Go?

Jeff Borden, Pearson Learning Technologies Group, USA


Choosing a conference session is hard. Will the presenter be engaging, funny, or innovative? (The answer here is yes, by the way.) That choice is for 1 session on 1 day for 1 experience that you may or may not ever think about again. So imagining student choice when it comes to curriculum, assessment, collaboration, and more seems daunting!

Many people argue that Personalized / Individualized Learning is the way of the future. But questions arise when discussing the pedagogical, ethical, and practical logistics around this "education for one" concept. See how data, social tools, and new online reporting is making personalized learning possible. As well, participants will be shown just how far we might go down the personalized road, while ethical implications are discussed. Finally, the question will be posed, with suggestions made, around when personalization is the wrong path, and how we can try to achieve balance through digital means.

This seasoned presenter, professor, and stand-up comic will provide insights, research, theory, application, best practices, and will likely show you some technologies you have not seen before, much of it while giving you choices about what you will (or will not) learn.



Jeff Borden

Dr. Jeff D Borden, VP of Instruction and Academic Strategy at Pearson earned Master’s in Rhetoric and Human Communication from the University of Northern Colorado, in Greeley, Colorado and a Doctorate in Education Leadership from Argosy University, in Denver, Colorado.  For the past 20 years, Jeff has taught several upper and lower division Human Communication courses for the University of Northern Colorado, Metropolitan State College of Denver, several Community Colleges, and currently as an Enriched Lecturer with Chaminade University of Honolulu.  In addition, Jeff was Program Coordinator of Basic Public Speaking & Rhetoric for the largest program of its kind in the United States at MSCD. 

As a professor and educational consultant, he has designed, co-developed, and taught dozens of online courses since 1998. In his position with Pearson, Jeff has assisted faculty, administrators, and trainers from diverse fields in conceptualizing and designing their online courses as well as given direction for total program success.  He is often asked to speak and keynote at conferences as well as present workshops and seminars around effective teaching, learning styles, eLearning, collaboration, active learning, leadership, learning analytics, authentic assessment, and general education topics, in addition to Communication. In that capacity Jeff has provided keynote addresses for education conferences in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Singapore, Australia, and Brazil to name a few. 

In 2012, Jeff was also named Diretor of the Center for Online Learning. This educational research center found within the Research & Innovation Network seeks academic problems and academic solutions through rigorous, peer reviewed research.  In his short time leading the Center, Jeff has guided the study of social learning as framed by social networking solutions within learning environments, several one to one studies specific to mobile devices and efficacy of learning, and studies on gamification’s power through eLearning. 

In addition to Jeff’s academic service, he has also consulted for government, for-profit, and non-profit companies / organizations around the world in the areas of organizational, small group, intercultural, and interpersonal communication.  Jeff has spoken to members of the US Senate Subcommittee on Education regarding the future of education and how technology will potentially impact that.  

In addition, Jeff has developed and presented a seminar series, “Teaching Master Teachers: Practical Teaching Applications.”  This series has been presented on several college campuses as well as to US National Public Radio, ABC West, the American Association of Doctors, and in various other corporate settings.  He has also published a workbook for public speaking (3rd ed.) as well as several articles and illustrations for various communication books.  Jeff is currently working on his first major publication, “Education 3.0: How Neuroscience + Learning Psychology + Education Technology Helps Navigate the C’s of Academia”.

How Adaptive Recommended Learning Contributes to Our School

Gerald Bossenbroek, Hondsrug College, The Netherlands; Jeroen Wester, Lopexs, The Netherlands


How adaptive recommended learning contributes to our school

Personalized learning

This presentation shows what we did on our school to innovate education. In the summer of 2011 we started a program to introduce adaptive recommended learning in our school. Name of the program in Dutch: Leren-op-Maat. The basic hypothesis is that 1:1 learning or personalized learning leads to better learning achievements. We wanted to learn in a real-life school setting how to achieve this. 


No long planning sessions upfront, we started small and learned incrementally. We wanted to find out if adaptive recommended learning improves learning achievements and we wanted to find out what impact it would have on our teachers, students and school organization.

We took the following steps:

1) Created a small team of teachers willing to do a pilot.
2) Created educational content that could be used in a personalized learning environment.
3) Contributed to a software platform that implements adaptive recommended learning (name of the software platform: Pulseon).
4) Organized advisory support for the teachers.
5) Organized research to measure the effects of the program.

Personalized learning environment

Every student that participated in the program was offered a personalized learning environment on a tablet computer. The student's learning environment is based on his or her learning style. Please note that we understand that learning styles is just one of the many ways to personalize the student's learning environment. The student's profile contains the student's preferred learning style. The learning style of every student is assessed with a questionnaire at the start of the program. Based on the students learning results during the school year, the teacher supported by software platform changes the student's learning style preferrences. The teacher's role in this process is 'manager of the student's learning behaviour'.

<1350591735_pulseon-concept-diagram.jpg here>

Results of the program

We wanted to find out if and in what way personalized learning would contribute to our school. We found out that it did in the following ways.

A) Improved learning achievements of students
The program made it possible to provide education to students that matches with their educational profile. We have strong clues that this improved learning achievements of the students but it is too early to show evidence for this.

B) Support for school quality improvements 
More important was that the program helped us to canalize discussions about quality improvement in our school. The program made clear that the role of the teacher changes from an instructor to a coach in a personalized learning environment.

Conclusion and future outlook

The program ran for one year. Based on the preliminary success of this first year we now make arrangements for the coming years. Support is found at other schools that are very interested in the program. They recently started using the same program. The program scales up from one to five schools and will expand even further in the course year 2012-2013. It is a grass root movement aimed at improving education inside out. We receive heavy interest from the Dutch educational publishing industry since the success of the program might have big consequences for their product offering. The same is true for the Dutch governmental departments that are connected to education.


Hondsrug College school website: (Dutch)

Hondsrug College Mobile Learning Weblog on the project: (Dutch)

Adaptive Recommended Learning platform Pulseon: (English)

1: 1350381781_pulseon-concept-diagram.png

2: 1350591735_pulseon-concept-diagram.jpg

Slide: gerald_bossenbroek_1350591877.pdf



Gerald Bossenbroek

52 years old, school director in a Dutch school for secondary education with a keen eye for improving learning through technology.

I started in education as a teacher, which I did for18 years and moved to school management 8 years ago.

For me teaching has always brought the question of how to cater for the needs of individual pupils to the forefront. During my classes it has always been an almost unsolvable problem to find out what a pupil needs on an individual level. What does a pupil need at any given time?  What is the next appropriate piece of learning content for a specific pupil and how can I keep track of these needs?  Does a pupil reach the set goals at the right time?

We feel that we are on the brink of finding solutions to these fundamental questions.  Adaptive learning and goal driven recommendation is a possible answer, exploring a way to cater for the needs of individual pupils without swamping the teacher in an unmanageable workload.



Learning Path: New Concept for Flexible Online Lifelong Learning

Wilfred Rubens, Open University, The Netherlands


Today lifelong learning and the realisation of the learning requirements of knowledge workers cannot be satisfied solely with courses and programmes. This has to do with the increasing changeability and complexity of knowledge work. Additionally internet technology, especially social media, fosters informalisation of learning (Redecker et al, 2011). It is expected that the use of new internet technology will lead to disruptive innovation in education (Christensen et al, 2008). A disruptive innovation is an innovation that helps create a new market and value network, and eventually goes on to disrupt an existing market and value network (over a few years or decades). In most cases a disruptive innovation replaces an existing technology. Sometimes a new technology is complementatry to an existing technology.

Educational institutes have to adapt to these changes if they want to continue playing an important role in lifelong learning.
With the project OpenU, the Dutch Open University (OU) aims to support knowledge workers to develop knowledge and skills at an academic level, in a flexible way, and to keep them up to date continously. In this project several new learning services are developed, using a new personal learning and work environment.

Within the OpenU-project, the 'learning path' is developed as a new concept for flexible lifelong learning. The learning path is used by the Centre for Learning Sciences and Technologies (CELSTEC) of the Open University of the Netherlands to meet the different learning needs of professionals in the field of learning sciences and technology enhanced learning. These professionals do not have the status of students. These learners, who bought a learning path, receive a voucher with credits that can be used to subscribe to six online masterclasses. These online masterclasses, that can be selected in a catalogue from a longer list by learners themselves, form the core of a learning path. These masterclasses have a fixed format and a turnaround time of a week. The masterclass starts was an intake assessment. Furthermore a synchronous learning activities can be done (e.g. assignments for orientation and in-depth learning). The third day there is a live online event (interview and chat). The learner him/herselves can decide which learner activities he or she want to do. Furthermore selforganized learning activities can be integrated in a learning path. For exemple: learners who work at a school for vocational education attend internal seminars at work. These seminars can be validated when a learning writes a blog post about this seminar. A learning path will be certificated by the Open University, based on efforts of the learner (not based on attendency). 

In this presentation Wilfred Rubens provides an overview about this new concept. He will address the most important characteristics of a learning path. What is the pedagogical set up of an online masterclass? How is an learning path assigned? What technologies are used for learning and for the organisational processes? How are online masterclasses evaluated? What is the relationship with knowledge valorisation? Moreover, Wilfred Rubens will discuss if the new concept of the learning path will lead to a disruptive innovation.


Christensen, C., Horn. M en Johnson, C. (2008). Disruptive Class. New York: McGraw Hill.

Redecker, C., Leis, M., Leendertse, M., Punie, Y., Gijsbers, G., Kirschner, P. A., Stoyanov, S., & Hoogveld, A. W. M. (2011). The future of learning: preparing for change. Luxembourg, Joint Research Centre and Institute for Prospective Technological Studies.

Slide: wilfred_rubens_1354206060.pdf



Wilfred Rubens

Wilfred Rubens (1964) currently works as an independent consultant on technology enhanced learning. He provides advice, keynotes, presentations, workshops and classes about technology enhanced learning. Wilfred has been professionally involved in e-learning for more than 20 years. For more than 12 years he blogs about ICT and learning. June 2013 he published a book about elearning trends and developments (in Dutch). In 2015 he was co-author of a book about social learning. Wilfred is also one of the editors of the Dutch portal, member of the advisory board of the anual Dutch Next Learning conference and member of the advisory board of the ONLINE EDUCA BERLIN.

What a Difference a Year Makes: Introducing Reflective, Flexible Lifelong Learning Opportunities in Sports

Lucy Stone, British Swimming, UK


What a difference a year makes: Introducing reflective, flexible lifelong learning opportunities in Sports


Key words: Change, Innovate and Learn
Flexible, relevant and authentic pedagogical approaches


Background and Context:

SportPark in Loughborough, UK, houses three different organisations under one roof:  British Swimming, responsible for our elite athletes in swimming, diving, synchronised swimming, water polo and open water; The Amateur Swimming Association (ASA) is the National Governing Body as well as the awarding body for many courses that span the aquatics industry, for example, anyone wishing to train to be a teacher or coach in all aquatic disciplines outlined above. The ASA are also responsible for the licensing of a 160 strong tutor workforce who are geographically dispersed across the UK and some overseas centres.   The third area is the Institute of Swimming (IoS), the largest provider of aquatics courses and learning across the country with over 17,000 learners, and using 120 of the ASA licensed tutors across 9 regions within England and Wales.

New learners entering our programmes of study normally start on an ASA Level One qualification at the age of 16, and are predominantly work-based learners, working within the leisure, and in particular the ‘aquatics’ environment.  To date our courses have been ‘traditionally’ delivered with a mix of classroom-based theory together with poolside, practical learning.  Courses can range from Level One, lasting five days, through to Level Three which can last up to three years.  Learners also have opportunities to participate in some 50 or so professional development courses, usually run as face to face seminars.

In September 2011, a large investment in the building of an E-Learning team originally started with a view to improving the offer of online learning.  However, with further investigation of the learners and qualifications on offer, it was decided to move the whole organisation; British Swimming, the ASA and the IoS towards a more flexible, reflective, relevant approach to teaching delivery and learning resulting in a complete cultural shift in practice.  This cultural shift has been supported by the introduction of new and emerging technology.

Technology and Implementation:

In the last year, two major implementations have taken place in regards to technology. The first being the introduction of the PebblePad+ e-portfolio tool.  This tool enables all users of the system; staff, learners and tutors, to reflect on their own development and practice both inside and outside work, capturing informal and formal learning opportunities that are stored in their ‘personal learning space’.  The user then chooses to share their formal and informal learning with anyone ranging from; employers, tutors, mentors, peers, managers etc.  PebblePad+ has been rolled out together with a programme of content development enabling all audiences to have access to more bite sized, flexible learning packages called ‘ILearns’.  Making learning opportunities relevant and individualised specifically to that learner, tutor or member of staff.

Although the systems and cultural shifts in practice are in their infancy, the changes being implemented build on the findings of the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) funded Work Based Learners in Further Education (WoLF) and the Higher Education Lifelong Learning Opportunities (HELLO) Projects.  Early indications with learners and the tutor workforce, through pilots and training are showing a desire and need for these changes to encourage a more flexible approach to learning, and a more holistic approach to gathering evidence through work-based and experiential learning opportunities.  Further research will be carried out to investigate the impact on whether or not the building of communities of practice within PebblePad+, and access to ILearns encourages a move away from ‘traditional’ linear learning and to an individualised lifelong learning journey in whatever capacity the user is; learner, tutor or staff.


The second technological implementation is the use of various development tools to turn paper-based, linear materials into highly interactive, creative packages of learning.  Using Articulate Storyline (HTML5) together with animation tools: IClone 5 and Crazy Talk Animator the E-Learning Team has been able to produce materials including key characters and scenarios set in a fictitious leisure centre ‘The Moore Sports Institute’.  These scenarios offer learners the opportunity to visualise and reflect every day work-based situations that they may not experience in their current working environment.


Pedagogical design


The technological implementations have been introduced at a key time. This has been during the re-development of content and design of a programme containing ILearns for “High Performing” teachers and coaches.  As well as the traditional ASA courses and learning pathways teachers and coaches can follow, a further 26 learning opportunities have been developed to support gaps in knowledge, primarily “softer skills” broken into four dimension which are self awareness, learner awareness, environmental awareness and teacher/coach/learner engagement.  These are formative assessment opportunities underpinned by reflective practice, the ability to evaluate their own performance and set their own goals and targets.  British Swimming is the first sporting organisation to offer such a comprehensive, holistic and “whole” educational package in sports teaching and coaching.




Participant Benefits


Participants will be able to gain a better understanding on the impact of implementing new technology across an organisation, and the effects on different users of the system.

Gain an understanding of PebblePad+ and its effective use in changing teaching and learning methods, underpinned by reflective practice.

Be able to see examples of ‘ILearns’ using various affordable technologies to turn some ‘traditional’ teaching materials into bite-sized, self-directed learning opportunities.

Gain an understanding of the move from the linear approach to learning to self-directed, flexible, informal and formal learning opportunities.

Gain an understanding of what is realistically achievable within a year in an organisation of 350 staff, 160 tutors and 17,000 learners.

Share knowledge of what went well, and lessons learnt to date.

Slide: lucy_stone_1353604808.pptx



Lucy Stone

Lucy is an advocate of the use of creative technologies in lifelong learning, being a self-confessed “lifelong learner” herself.  Having found herself teaching Computing in further education, despite having trained as a chef, she started a journey of own development particularly relying on distance and e-learning to enable her to juggle the demands of work and home life.  Lucy continued to teach for over 18 years in computing, becoming deeply involved in E-Learning in 2001.   Lucy has taken her knowledge of education and learning together with technology to project manage and carry out research in a number of projects.  These projects include the JISC funded Work based learners in Further Education (WoLF) Project - investigating the use of mobile technology in work based practice and the Higher Education Lifelong Learning Opportunities (HELLO) Project – investigating the impact of building learning communities on the retention of ‘non-traditional’ students. This research led to other, non funded projects, identifying how the use of technology in learning can support reflective practice and ultimately led to improved retention on courses, and enabled learners to collaborate and work independently more effectively.  After nearly two decades in Further Education she ventured into developing E-Learning in a new field and is currently the E-Learning and Resource Development Manager for British Swimming.  Working across British Swimming, the Amateur Swimming Association and the Institute of Swimming, Lucy has been able to build on her knowledge, experience and previous research with a team of creative, dynamic and innovative staff.  Lucy and her team are working towards developing a new culture of educational practice and shift away from the traditional course delivery for potentially 17,000 learners, and across a tutor workforce of 160 tutors.  Key elements to the new develops is the introduction of  use of new technologies to enable the development of paper based materials to online, interactive learning using Sim scenarios supporting both face to face, blended or pure online courses.  As well as the introduction of the interactive content, the biggest cultural shift in staff, tutors and learners is the introduction of an e-portfolio tool that encourages the users to reflect on their practice and share information with peers, colleagues, friends, managers and others.