Technology-Supported Environments for Personalized Learning: Methods and Case Studies

Technology-Supported Environments for Personalized Learning: Methods and Case Studies

John O'Donoghue (University of Central Lancashire, UK)
Release Date: November, 2009|Copyright: © 2010 |Pages: 538
ISBN13: 9781605668840|ISBN10: 1605668842|EISBN13: 9781605668857|DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-884-0
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Responding to the specific needs of each student, personalized learning has the potential to refocus education on the individual rather than the institution.

Technology-Supported Environments for Personalized Learning: Methods and Case Studies explores the metaphor of anytime and anywhere individual education as well as the idea of tailoring instruction to meet individual needs. A critical mass of the most sought after industry findings, this innovative collection explores a variety of leading research in educational skills, knowledge, expertise, and experience to create the perfect learning space for each person.

Topics Covered

  • Blogging
  • Case studies in personalized learning environments
  • Digital audio engagement
  • E-learning and student expectations
  • E-portfolios in higher education
  • Interactive and collaborative learning
  • Music students and mobile technology
  • Personalization through technology
  • Personalizing teaching and learning with digital resources
  • Video-enriched learning experiences for performing arts students

Reviews and Testimonials

My fervent hope is that this book will make a difference to the many classrooms of computers and technology which increasing pervade and saturate our educational institutions and the lack of 'real' or meaningful learner engagement provided by this intrusion.

– John O'Donoghue, University of Central Lancashire, UK

Contributors from the UK report on recent research and cases in using technology to respond to the specific needs and interests of each student. The cases described range from whole class to individual delivery, in large universities and small departments, and among all content areas.

– Sci Tech Book News,

Table of Contents and List of Contributors

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John O'Donoghue
Table of Contents
John O'Donoghue
Chapter 1
Gráinne Conole
There is a growing awareness that one-size-fits-all approaches to school knowledge and organisation are ill-adapted both to individuals’ needs and... Sample PDF
Personalisation through Technology-Enhanced Learning
Chapter 2
Beth Granter
This chapter, inspired by direct experience from working on the development of the University of Sussex’s Student Personal Learning and Social... Sample PDF
Breaking the Hierarchy: Democratising the Institutional Web Space
Chapter 3
Sabrina Leone
The attainment of lifelong learning objectives is being mediated by a complex process of innovation in education and society, by the integration of... Sample PDF
PLE: A Brick in the Construction of a Lifelong Learning Society
Chapter 4
Stan Stanier
This chapter details the implementation of a university-wide social networking platform “Community@ Brighton” – using the open source Elgg platform... Sample PDF
Community@Brighton: The Development of an Institutional Shared Learning Environment
Chapter 5
Barbara Newland, Maria-Christiana Papaefthimiou
Students who have grown up in the digital age have certain expectations for learning in Higher Education (HE). “Using a complex mix of virtual and... Sample PDF
eLearning: Institutional Provision and Student Expectations
Chapter 6
Kevin Burden, Simon Atkinson
This chapter describes the ways in which individual academics have sought to realise a degree of personalisation in their teaching practice through... Sample PDF
Personalising Teaching and Learning with Digital Resources: DiAL-e Framework Case Studies
Chapter 7
Elfneh Udessa Bariso
Electronic media can contribute to personalisation of learning both in formal and informal contexts. Efforts are made both at individual and... Sample PDF
Personalised eLearning in Further Education
Chapter 8
Richard Hall, Steve Mackenzie, Melanie Hall
The adoption across higher education of participatory, collaborative and connective ‘read/write web’ tools and synchronous classrooms has the... Sample PDF
The Impact of Interactive and Collaborative Learning Activities on the Personalised Learning of Adult Distance Learners
Chapter 9
Paul Lowe, Margo Blythman
In a context of mass higher education it can be a challenge to build a reasonable level of personalised learning into the student experience. This... Sample PDF
Blogs and the e-Flective Practitioner: Professional, not Confessional
Chapter 10
Ruth Pilkington
The chapter suggests the implementation of personalised learning within Higher Education raises fundamental issues and challenges when developing... Sample PDF
Building Practitioner Skills in Personalised eLearning: Messages for Professional Development
Chapter 11
Susi Peacock, Kate Morss, Alison Scott, Jane Hislop, Lindesay Irvine, Sue Murray, Simon T. Girdler
Personalisation, with its emphasis on learner choice and lifelong learning, challenges educators to provide an innovative, student-centric... Sample PDF
Using ePortfolios in Higher Education to Encourage Learner Reflection and Support Personalised Learning
Chapter 12
Iain Doherty, Adam Blake
The authors consider personalised learning in the context of delivering a specialist postgraduate course – ClinEd 711, ELearning and Clinical... Sample PDF
Personalised Learning: A Case Study in Teaching Clinical Educators Instructional Design Skills
Chapter 13
Len Webster, Patricie Mertova, Kim Styles, Lindsay Smith
This chapter provides a case study outlining strategies which represent a starting point in the development of a personalised learning environment... Sample PDF
Research-Led Curriculum Redesign for Personalised Learning Environments: A Case Study in the Faculty of Information Technology
Chapter 14
Alberto Ramírez Martinell, Julie-Ann Sime
To close the gap between formal education and professional practice, Higher Education (HE) practitioners need to be aware of the importance of... Sample PDF
Video-Enriched Learning Experiences for Performing Arts Students: Two Exploratory Case Studies
Chapter 15
Neil Andrew Gordon
This chapter considers some ways in which personalised learning can potentially be delivered by means of appropriate assessment and the use of... Sample PDF
Enabling Personalised Learning through Formative and Summative Assessment
Chapter 16
Debbie Holley, Lyn Greaves, Claire Bradley, John Cook
This chapter shows how a suite of learning objects were developed by the Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning for Reusable Learning... Sample PDF
"You Can Take Out of it What You Want": How Learning Objects within Blended Learning Designs Encourage Personalised Learning
Chapter 17
Dirk Thißen, Volker Zimmermann, Tilman Küchler
Personalisation is a key requirement to motivate learners to use learning technology and self-paced content. Whereas most research and technologies... Sample PDF
Into the Great Wide Open: Responsive Learning Environments for Personalised Learning
Chapter 18
Gordon Joyes
This chapter describes two tools for personalised learning that were outcomes of projects led by the author for use in educational settings. These... Sample PDF
Personalisation and the Online Video Narrative Learning Tools V-ResORT and the ViP
Chapter 19
Marina Orsini-Jones
This chapter illustrates a curricular intervention carried out at Coventry University (UK) with undergraduate students reading English. It explores... Sample PDF
Shared Spaces and ‘Secret Gardens': The Troublesome Journey from Undergraduate Students to Undergraduate Scholars Via PebblePad
Chapter 20
Stuart Nolan
LEGO Serious Play is a business development process where users build metaphorical models from LEGO bricks in order to explore and share their... Sample PDF
Physical Metaphorical Modelling with LEGO as a Technology for Collaborative Personalised Learning
Chapter 21
Samantha Osborne, Ruben Martin, Louise Frith
The University of Kent is piloting the use of ePortfolios in a number of departments; the School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research... Sample PDF
Using ePortfolios to Evidence Practice Learning for Social Work Students
Chapter 22
Anne Nortcliffe, Andrew Middleton
Audio feedback is a method that can provide rich, personal and detailed feedback that can convey more than the written word. This is particularly... Sample PDF
Effective Assignment Feedback through Timely and Personal Digital Audio Engagement
Chapter 23
Thomas Cochrane
Five billion songs, and counting, have been downloaded (completely legally) through Apple Computer’s online iTunes Store. The iTunes University... Sample PDF
Contemporary Music Students and Mobile Technology
About the Contributors



“Technology catalyses changes not only in what we do but in how we think. It changes people’s awareness of themselves, of one another, of their relationship with the world.”

Personalised learning seems to have been adopted as the new mantra in education. This is in part due to the widespread availability of software which purports to support honourable aspects of learning, reflection, consolidation and extension…. to name but a few. The environment for learning has also radically changed from didactic taught classroom or lecture based delivery to an environment which empowers learners to take responsibility for their own learning. Such backgrounds as VLEs, MLEs, LMS and Web 2.0 tools, blogs, WIKIS, social networks all have changed the engagement between learner and teacher, as well as between learner and learner. This is within a variety of contexts both formal and informal.

The political dimension is also attributable. The UK government is keen that children, pupils and students will ‘enjoy and benefit from a personal learning experience’. Surely, learning has always been personal? The way I learn is not the way you learn. This is true of how I experience and assimilate the learning occurrence in the lecture hall. How I use a blog or social network site as my preferred learning platform is inevitably and fundamentally different to any other user. The depth and meaning of reflection on my experience may be due to the rigours of my course and the often imposed assessment pattern or personal as I want to ‘see’ how and how much I have learnt, understood, or can apply in a variety of alternative scenarios. Personalisation, learner, pupil or student centredness advocate the use of the learner’s own predilection, behaviour and activities.

The tension is between the formal institutional assessment regime and methods which are often incoherently mapped against the personal, individual learning strategies advocated by misaligned curriculum ideologies which advocate personalised learning and independent activity based engagement. These do not nestle comfortably within many institutions who feel it necessary to have generic examinations which ‘test’ against what was learned and remembered during a specific course, module or learning episode. This is often to the detriment of utilising skills, knowledge and personal learning attributes which can be assimilated within a future scenario or domain.

The content of this publication highlights the many areas in which practitioners are attempting to implement learning technologies and reflects themes of current topical interest. Personalising learning and the learner experience can be supported, enhanced and encouraged by the application and intervention of technology. However, this must be carefully considered within the realms of what is both possible and desirable. Internal and external factors also make a significant difference i.e. the institutional impediments and often unsalable network access, the culture of the institution or environment. The engagement with and by the students in formal, informal and situated learning. Finally technology, Web 2.0 and increasingly social networks provide an opportunity to delve into additional learning experiences, but these do need careful consideration if we are not to dilute the value, nature and experience of learning itself.

The book has three main sections: Infrastructural and Cultural Issues, Pedagogical Issues and Technological Issues. The first section on infrastructure considers aspects related to the major infrastructural, cultural and organisational changes required, if innovation is going to effect any change in the institutional regime. It will focus on the role of the student and the tutor in the personalisation of the learning process. The section on pedagogical issues presents descriptions of the different cases and ways in which practitioners have attempted to use learning technologies and give personal examples which illustrate both the potential and dangers of personalised learning technologies. The section on technological issues will present descriptions of the “tools” that practitioners are using, outline their strengths and weaknesses and highlight issues that need to be considered when planning to implement new personalised learning environments.

Whilst the chapters are located within a section, the nature of technological use cannot be so compartmentalised - so many of the studies and topics reported here cut across many boundaries, infrastructural and cultural, pedagogic and technological. The key issues highlighted and discussed include widening access and participation, student-centred and collaborative learning and the changing role of the tutor/ pupil/ student.


Technology and the Web are valuable resources, enriching the educational resources we provide already. The key is providing appropriate environments and then reinforcing the experiences with concrete activities. It is important that eLearning is recognised as a supplement to the personal interaction provided by lecturers, teachers, parents and peers, not a replacement.

Technology provides opportunities never before available - such as remote global communication and file sharing, reflection, consolidation, collaboration and exploration, simulation and active independent individualised learning. Yet school, college and university departments are in danger of sabotaging - through incomplete and, in some cases, detrimental implementation plans - the power of technology to transform the teaching and learning process.

The twenty-three chapters included in this book were selected from a large number of submissions. They cover vastly different subjects, group sizes and institutional types - music to social, whole class to individual delivery and engagement, large universities to small departments, undergraduate to post graduate. They are driven by the passion of the staff involved to ‘make a difference’, not by simply using technology, but by applying technology in an innovative way to enhance, enrich and extend the learning in which our students are involved.

The book presents case studies, research findings, developments and interventions which will provide guidelines and benchmarks with which the reader will be able to see how, why and where their own implementation of technology is either struggling or ‘not making a difference’ within the context of personalised learning.

My fervent hope is that this book will make a difference to the many classrooms of computers and technology which increasing pervade and saturate our educational institutions and the lack of ‘real’ or meaningful learner engagement provided by this intrusion.

    John O'Donoghue

Author(s)/Editor(s) Biography

John O’Donoghue initially taught in a social priority area school, moving later to post graduate lecturing, advising and consultancy for both initial teaching training and education departments and more recently a within a National ICT Research Unit. He has held the position of chair and president of the Association for Learning Technology (ALT) and has hosted a number of regional, national and international conferences. O’Donoghue has held honorary research fellowships at universities across the globe. He now holds a visiting research fellowship at the University of Wollongong, Australia. Currently, Professor O'Donoghue was appointed Professor of Learning and Technology at the University of Central Lancashire, UK. O’Donoghue was previously a Senior Learning and Teaching Fellow at the Centre of Excellence in Learning and Teaching at the University of Wolverhampton. He is also a consultant and an advocate of the “global classroom”. He sits on a number of review, editorial and programme committees.

Recently, the Shrewsbury Chronicle (August 31, 2006 edition), UK,did a feature on Professor O'Donoghue as he moved to the University of Central Lancashire. The article also highlighted his book, Technology Supported Learning and Teaching: A Staff Perspective.