Personalising Teaching and Learning with Digital Resources: DiAL-e Framework Case Studies

Personalising Teaching and Learning with Digital Resources: DiAL-e Framework Case Studies

Kevin Burden (The University of Hull, UK) and Simon Atkinson (Massey University, New Zealand)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-884-0.ch006


This chapter describes the ways in which individual academics have sought to realise a degree of personalisation in their teaching practice through their engagement with the DiAL-e Framework (Digital Artefacts for Learner Engagement). The DiAL-e Framework ( is a new conceptual model, articulated as a paper-based and web-based tool, for designing learning engagements. The policy and theoretical context, evolution of the framework and the methodology used to utilise the framework with academic staff seeking to personalise the learning experience is outlined. Details of three case studies resulting from this early work are described and conclusions drawn as to how such frameworks might assist staff in thinking about personalised learning scenarios.
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Teaching in tertiary education has long been challenged for the endurance of a mass produced, content-driven transmission model of learning, unsuitable for the needs of the individual learner, and indeed the wider society it serves (Daniel, 1996). This has led some practitioners to explore the virtues of its antithesis, an entirely student-centred mode of learning based on an individualised or atomised notion of the learner with a minimum of teacher direction or interference (Brandes & Ginnes, 1996). For some institutions and students the pendulum has swung completely from a prevailing transmission model towards an entirely student-centred, individualised model. The role of the teacher in each of these extreme caricatures is deeply unsatisfactory and ill defined. In the content driven paradigm, the teacher is centre stage in terms of the classroom dynamics but is often uncertain about what their role should be beyond the transmission of an established body of knowledge or perceived wisdom. Conversely, in the student-centred model the teacher is often disenfranchised and may feel left without a role as the emphasis switches almost entirely to the individual learner dynamic.

In the 1990s and 2000s a range of emerging research and policy priorities have impacted on this pendulum swing, between the teacher-focused and learner-centred conceptualisations of teaching delivery models. The adoption of Internet delivery mechanisms challenged the design of essentially print-based distance education materials, but has arguably fallen short in revolutionising the learner experience. Policy and practice driven initiative such as the UK Open University’s CURVE (CoUrse Reuse & VErsioning) project from 2001-2004 (, through which a community of teaching practitioners exchange ideas for practical learning situations, and the Digital Artefacts for Learner Engagement Framework (DiAL-e) described here, are attempts to see not just the content as malleable and versatile, but the patterns and practicum of learner engagement as equally flexible and transferable between levels and disciplines. Content and learning designs may be reusable and available for re-contextualisation, but how does one make them relevant to the individual learner?

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