The why and what of Personalised Learning

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John Pallister

Jun 1, 2009, 5:21:07 PM6/1/09
to ePortfolios and PLTs
Over the past few weeks I have attempted to sort out my thinking about
Personalised Learning, the ePortfolio Process and Curriculum Mapping.
I have bounce my thinking off this group, off Twitter, off Miranda net
and Becta Research List.

I have just upload a set of slides, attempt 1, that shows a bit of my
thinking + references to that of others. Would welcome comments,
suggestions before I add in the linkage to the ePortfolio Process and
Curriculum Mapping

John Pallister

John Pallister

Jun 11, 2009, 1:42:17 AM6/11/09
to ePortfolios and PLTs
Some useful thinking or the ramblings of a chap who should get out

What is this; an academic article written by an academic in his
pursuit to move thinking forward in a particular area or an individual
sharing one chapter or episode of his learning journey? It cannot be
the former; I am not an academic by any stretch of the imagination. I
am sharing some of my thinking about personalised learning, along with
some explanation of how my thinking has developed, along with some of
my reflections on the process that I have gone through to get to this
stage; where I am motivated to publish and share my thinking.

My motivation to publish or share needs to be questioned; is it part
of a personal aspiration to seek fame and fortune; am I driven by a
spirit of community, having a desire to contribute to the thinking of
a community; or am I simply satisfying my ego, having the arrogance to
think that as I have written something, somebody will read it and I
will become better in someway? Fame and fortune, yes please;
community, a developing concept, but yes, somehow I feel that I want
to, that I should try to contribute my thinking to the community that
I watch, that I follow, that I participate in. I have not been told
to contribute; I have not been asked to contribute. I have simply
decided that I will contribute. I have access to the technology and
tools that will let me publish and share my contributions; I have
developed the skills that I need to use the tools and I have, somehow
developed the confidence to do it, to throw my thinking into the
global melting pot.

I acknowledge: that I do not really know who will read this; that it
might not be read by anyone; that I will not know where in the world
the reader might be; that I will not know what their motives for
reading this might be; that I will not know whether the reader will
respond to, use or develop what I have shared with them. I am happy
to publish and share with an audience or community that might or might
not exist. I have the 21st century confidence or perhaps arrogance
needed to function in the connected world, or perhaps I am simply
happy talking to myself. A pointless task, or part of a reflective
process that might help me to learn and develop my understanding?

So what am I talking about, what have I got to share, what have I got
to contribute? I decided that I would attend and contribute to the
ePortfolio 2009 conference in London 22nd – 24th June. I had been
fortunate enough in that I had attended this major international
conference on two previous occasions. Previously I have prepared
presentations and taken them to the event and delivered them. As I am
a different learner now; I lurk around many online communities, I
increasingly contribute and participate, I decided that I would try to
involve as many people as I could as I developed my presentation for
this conference. For two months I posted my thinking to as many groups
and communities that I could in an attempt to validate my thinking.
What follows is the result and I acknowledge the contribution of the
members of the ePortfolio and PLTs group, the MirandaNet and Becta
Research Lists, the LinkedIn community, the TES Community Forum and

I have been an advocate for learner ePortfolios for many years and
have experience of working with, and supporting, learners of all
abilities in an 11 to 19 school environment. I have, at all stages of
my ePortfolio exploration and experimentation, shared my thinking and
findings with the community. My journey is well documented and forms
part of my digital footprint.

Not rocket science, but from my experience and thinking, I had
concluded that unless ‘something’ is integrated into the curriculum,
it is very unlikely that the ‘something’ will happen. The integration
must not only be into the curriculum as the plan for what learning
experiences will be presented to the learner, but into the processes
that are in place to support the learner as they learn.

The ‘something’ in this case is the ePortfolio process. A process that
requires learners to take increasing responsibility for their own
learning and encourages them to record, share and reflect on their
plans, aspirations, progress and development. It is a process that
needs to be integrated into the curriculum; a process that supports
learning. That it is a ‘process’, presents the real challenge. It
requires much more than simply integrating activities or opportunities
into the curriculum to satisfy a requirement for the learner to ‘know’
or be able to ‘do’ something.

As a process, it is a much more complex ‘thing’ to integrate into a
curriculum. The process requires the learner to learn, develop and
apply a set of skills before they can use the process. It is the
opportunities for learners to learn and develop these skills that must
be integrated first; then it is the requirement or expectation for
them to apply the skills as part of the ePortfolio process that must
be integrated.

To integrate the skills development without having integrated the
opportunities, requirement or expectation for learners to apply them
will not move us forward, nor would building in opportunities,
expectations or requirements for learners to apply or use the skills,
if the skills development stage had not already been addressed. Skills
development and opportunities to practise and apply must both be
planned and integrated before the process can really begin to work
for, and support the learner.

This ‘paper’ really explores two things; the relationship between the
personalisation agenda and the ePorfolio process and the role that web-
based curriculum mapping might have in supporting personalised
learning. It will also provide a commentary on some of the techniques
that I had used to attempt to engage communities in the development of
my thinking.

I had developed an understanding that the ePortfolio process supported
learning and was a process that learners were likely to use when they
operate in their Personal Learning Environment. REF BLOGG My argument
went along the lines of: schools are being encouraged to personalise
learning; the ePortfolio process is part of what learners do when
operate in their Personal Learning Environment; therefore schools
should promote and support the ePortfolio process.

I set out on my learning journey to find out who was encouraging
schools to personalise learning offer. I conducted internet searches
and promoted discussions in Twitter, MirandaNet, Betca Research,
LinkedIn, ePortfolio and PLTs and TES communities.

Personalised Learning: the Why.

The UK’s aspiration to have “world class schools providing excellent,
personalised teaching and learning, to help all children and young
people to progress in their education and wider development” creates
an expectation that schools should “put personalising learning at the
heart of their vision for transforming teaching and learning” . This
expectation presents itself as major components in a range of
educational agendas including: the Children’s Plan, 2007; Every Child
Matters, 2004; Gilbert Review, 2006; Further Education White Paper,
2006; Leitch Review of Skills, 2006 and World Class Skills, 2007 that
all “endorse the concepts of personalisation and the learner’s right
to have a voice.”

Personalisation recognises that the learner is an individual and that
it is no longer acceptable to provide or target ‘education’ at a
group; that ‘one size’ does NOT ‘fit all’ learners, and that
‘traditional’ teaching, a practice primarily designed with economy of
the teaching resource in mind, does not promote personalised learning.
Personalisation acknowledges a need to open up education to learners
who had previously been ‘left behind’ and that “more tailored
approaches for learners” are required if we are to improve the
national education offer available to our learners, a system that
would better address the “disparities that see so many groups of
learners, often the most vulnerable, fail to thrive and succeed.”

The need to cater for those learners that are, or have been left
behind adds weight to the arguments for creating a system that
recognises and addresses the needs of individual learners. Catering
for the need of this group of learners “is critical in working towards
a society where a child’s chances of success are not limited by their
socio-economic background, gender, ethnicity or any disability.”
Personalised learning is promoted as something that can support the
aspiration that all learners should have an entitlement to an
education; to learning opportunities that are relevant, appropriate
and that they can access.

There is a lot of discussion as to whether or not the current
generation of learners actually learn in different ways; separate to
that debate, what we do know is that the experiences and expectations
that learners now bring with them to a learning situation are
different. Increasingly teachers are acknowledging that learners
expect “the service to be organised around them, NOT them around it.
They want high quality service, tailored to their specific needs and
at a time and place convenient for them… ”. Students are now more
prepared to voice their concerns and expectations; a voice that cannot
be ignored when we are trying to “ to raise the productivity of the
education system – by tailoring teaching and learning to individual
need, and developing students as more active partners in effective
learning.’” Learners, increasingly, have a ‘me centric’ expectations
for education along with an expectation that their views, ideas and
demands are listened to. An active partner needs to be listened to.

The drivers for personalised learning centre on an aspiration to
provide the best ‘education’ for all learners, acknowledging that all
learners are different; have different abilities, needs, preferred
ways of learning and expectations. An ‘education’ that equips them
with the skills that will enable them to survive and thrive in life,
education, training and employment; enabling them to operate and
function independently and preparing them to take responsibility for
their continuous personal and professional development. An ‘education’
that values non-planned, informal learning and recognises that
learners are already using and developing their own personal ICT based
learning environments, that they have ownership of and want to use. An
‘education’ that harnesses the available technologies and that
aspires to “raise standards by focusing teaching and learning on the
aptitudes and interests of pupils”,
Choice and Voice in Personalised Learning - Speech by Miliband, D

In a survey of school leaders conducted by John West-Burnham in ___ ,
personalising learning emerged as one of the top three most important
government initiatives for school leaders. It was identified, by
secondary leaders as the most important initiative. A majority of the
school leaders in the survey agreed on the “central significance of
personalising learning in the reform agenda”. While two thirds of the
school leaders who took part in the survey felt that they had “a clear
understanding of the meaning and implications of personalising
learning”, it is clear from recent discussions, that the majority of
teachers do not share a common view of what personalised learning is.

Although there are many ‘Drivers’ for personalised learning, the term
itself does mean different things to different people. Having been
‘thrown in’ to educational agendas and discussions, a lot of people
are talking about ‘personalised learning’. Frequently they are talking
about different things. This has created a situation where schools and
teachers are generally quite confused about what it is that they are
being told that they need to implement, introduce or support. This was
confirmed by the DES Investigation of Personalised Learning Approaches
used by Schools Research that identified the need for greater clarity
and guidance on personalised learning and the need to establish the
role of individualised provision within personalised learning. DES
Report RR843
The same report goes on to ‘muddy the waters’ a little more by
explaining that personal learning is not individualised learning; that
individualised learning is too expensive anyway and that “The power of
personalised learning is in its potential to recognise the 'personal'
in teaching, learning and schooling”. The LinkedIn discussion
highlighted the importance of recognising that the term Personalised
Learning is really a convenient label or wrapper for a group
associated educational concepts. NEED TO define these concepts -
Assessment for Learning? ++ COULD I use DCSF components ?http:// Choice and Voice in
Personalised Learning - Speech by Miliband, D 2006)
BUT Future Lab have personalised learning down as a concept ?
Curriculum and teaching innovation Transforming classroom practice and
personalisation a Futurelab handbook -
Ben Williamson and Sarah Payton Futurelab 2009

Personalised Learning: the What.

Passive Vs Active; pre-processed by the teacher Vs sourced by the

Learning is ‘personal’; it is something done by an individual,
something that happens when an individual does something or
experiences something. I suspect that adding the ‘ised’ onto
‘personal’ has caused much of the confusion. If something is
‘personalised’, it implies that something has been done to it to make
it more suitable or appropriate. To personalise learning would imply
that something had been done to the ‘learning’; that it had been
structured, organised or presented for the consumption of the learner.
Tailoring, customising, personalising the learning experiences to meet
the individual, personal needs of the learner; perhaps translating
them into attractive bite sized chunks, organised into a sequence and
delivered to the learner. Done by ‘Somebody’, possibly the teacher,
for the learner. This passive, pre-processing interpretation, is at
odds with the active, participatory view of personalisation that sees
the learner organising their own learning; organising their own time;
seeking information, advice and support from anyone who is
appropriate, available and accessible. The real debate is about who
personalises the learning, the teacher for the learner, or the learner
for themselves.

Partnerships supporting learning: the role of the teacher

In many attempts at defining personalised learning, the position and
importance of teachers, parents, employers, other agencies as partners
in learning emphasised:
• “personalisation means working in partnership with the learner and
employer to tailor their learning experience and pathways, according
to their needs and personal objectives in a way which delivers
success.” Personalising Further Education: Developing a Vision – Des
2006 ISBN: 978-1-84478-858-3
• “...It means strengthening the link between learning and teaching by
engaging pupils - and their parents - as partners in learning.” DCSF
publication ‘Personalised Learning - A Practical Guide’ 2008 Cited in
• “Personalised Learning means the community, local institutions and
social services supporting schools to drive forward progress in the
Choice and Voice in Personalised Learning - Speech by Miliband, D

Partnerships are important. They have the potential to both support
the learner with their personal development, and to provide the
learner with access to valuable resources, support and opportunities,
including information, advice, guidance, mentoring support and access
to work experience.

For the purposes of this discussion, we need to explore the
partnership between the ‘teacher’ and the learner. In schools near
you the ‘teacher’ might be a teaching assistant, a mentor or another
student; the ‘teaching’ role that they take on will take many forms
ranging from up-front information delivery, to facilitator, to
critical friend. They will be doing something to support the learner
as the learner works in the learning environment that the school
provides and supports. Somewhere along the line the learner will rely
on this ‘teacher’ to either give them a curriculum plan that
identifies a sequence of appropriate learning opportunities, or the
‘teacher’ will work with the learner to help them to plan their own
curriculum. Once the learner has their ‘curriculum plan’ to work
from, they work; they work through the activities; they follow lines
of enquiry; they explore and experiment; they collaborate and
communicate, while the ‘teacher’ is available for advice, guidance or
support. The ‘teacher’ will support the learner until they are able to
operate independently. Perhaps the confusion about the term
‘personalisation’ really directs us towards a view that we do need to
support or ‘teach’ the learner until they are able to operate as
independent learners. To do this the teacher needs to ‘personalise’
the curriculum along with any supporting activities and opportunities
so that they are appropriate for the individual learner. The learner
would need to be weaned off this third-party personalisation until
they are able to take over and do the “personalisation” for them
selves. They would be ‘taught’, rather that have ‘caught’ the skills
that they need to make choices and manage their own learning.

What will the Learner do?

What will the learner ‘do’ when they are taking part in personalised
learning? They will be “engaged not just with the content of what is
being taught but being involved with the learning process,
understanding what they need to do to improve and taking
responsibility for furthering their own progress.”
By following an appropriate curriculum that motivates and engages
them, the learner will be equipped “with the personal, learning and
thinking skills they will need to succeed in education, life and work”
Empowering or “building the confidence and capacity of the individual
learner” to learn is generally seen as being central to the majority
of current models or views of personalised learning.

They will need to be self motivated and self regulated making
decisions about what they need to learn, how and when they learn; they
will have a ‘say’, a voice in the design of their learning
experiences. They will be expected to reflect on their learning;
identifying how they can improve and exercising choice as they develop
as independent, lifelong learners. They will develop and apply their
Personal Learning and Thinking Skills; they will operate in a Personal
Learning Environment that provides them with anywhere, anytime access
• teachers or supporting partners (Parents, Carers, Mentors or any
appropriate persons) who would be able/willing to support or extend
their learning or development;
• an ‘accessible’/user friendly curriculum plan that identifies
possible/appropriate learning paths, learning opportunities and
• information sources, storage space and publishing space that have
common interfaces for communication, exchange and collaboration with
• a range of appropriate tools; tools that they are familiar with and
want to use, tools that use common standards for information

If we were able to create a learning environment where this happened
we would be moving someway towards meeting the national challenge of
creating a curriculum that equips learners with the Personal, Learning
and Thinking skills they will need to succeed in education, life and
Learners would be developing the skills that they need to ‘do’
Personalised Learning. They would be able to, independently, make the
choices and decisions that would enable them to ‘personalise’ their
own learning, and would be able to operate as independent learners. “A
central feature of any model of personalising learning is the focus on
building the confidence and capacity of the individual learner – in a
sense empowering the learner”.

DCSF identifies assessment for learning and use of data and dialogue
to diagnose every student’s learning needs as one of the components of
Personalised Learning.
Choice and Voice in Personalised Learning - Speech by Miliband, D
2006 Schools are tasked to create learning environments that are
consistent with assessment for learning and everything that we have
learnt contributes to effective learning, and that provide learners
with opportunities to develop Personal, Learning and Thinking skills

The Personal, Learning and Thinking skills that schools are expected
to integrate into their curriculum are made up of six skills groups:
• independent enquirers
• creative thinkers
• reflective learners
• team workers
• self-managers
• effective participators

Reflective learners are expected to "evaluate their strengths and
limitations, setting themselves realistic goals with criteria for
success” and if they have to “monitor their own performance and
progress, inviting feedback from others". If the same learners are
Self-managers who are expected to "organise themselves, showing
personal responsibility, initiative, creativity and enterprise with a
commitment to learning and self-improvement"

Both Reflective learners and the Self-managers skills groups rely on
the Plan, Do and Review cycle that is also at heart of assessment for
learning. The learner will use their reflections to plan what it is
that they must do to move forward, to learn something, to achieve
something, to produce something etc.

Independent enquirers "process and evaluate information in their
investigations”. To do that they plan "what to do and how to go about
it". Effective participators need to able to "propose practical ways
forward, breaking these down into manageable steps" they will need to
engage in some analysis and employ some problem solving strategies. If
they are to "identify improvements that would benefit others as well
as themselves" they will need to review and reflect on what they, or
others have done or proposed. A Team worker is expected to
"collaborate with others to work towards common goals", it would be
likely that working towards a common goal would involve some element
of problem solving, all-be-it collaborative problem solving. Problem
solving relies on the Plan, Do and Review process. If Creative
thinkers are to "try different ways to tackle a problem, working with
others to find imaginative solutions", they will again be solving

The Personal Learning and Thinking skills require learners to follow
the Plan, Do, Review cycle in active problem solving situations. “So
personalised learning means every student enjoying curriculum choice,
a breadth of study and personal relevance, with clear pathways through
the system. … it means students actively engaged by exciting
curricula, problem solving, and class participation.” Choice and
Voice in Personalised Learning - Speech by David Miliband - 18 May
2004 , DfES INNOVATION UNIT / DEMOS / OECD on Personalising
Education “Personalisation involves creating a coherent learning
environment where children and young people will experience the range
of approaches and opportunities that will enable them to increase
their competence as self-motivated learners.”

But what I have been describing here is quite different from the
definition in the Learning in 2020 Review “Taking a highly structured
and responsive approach to each child's and young person's learning,
in order that all are able to progress, achieve and participate. It
means strengthening the link between learning and teaching by engaging
pupils – and their parents – as partners in learning.” Teaching and
Learning in 2020 Review
“emergence of concepts such as ‘personalisation’ and ‘personalised
learning’, ‘media literacy’, ‘student voice’ and ‘active
participation’. These concepts imply a shift in how childhood is
perceived and written about in education. The idea of the schoolchild
as a passive recipient of school knowledge is increasingly being
rejected in favour of a view of children as socially active and
participative, democratically bringing existing knowledge and ideas
into the classroom that are worthy of consideration in the
curriculum.” Curriculum and teaching innovation Transforming
classroom practice and personalisation a Futurelab handbook - Ben Williamson and Sarah Payton
Futurelab 2009

Despite all of the confusion about the term ‘Personalised Learning’,
what is clear is that it, for most schools, will require a shift in
emphasis from teaching to learning. More importance will be given to
what the learner experiences and does. The learner will be expected,
and therefore will need to be ‘taught’, to take more control of his or
her own learning. They will need to develop Personal Learning and
Thinking Skills; they will rely on this skills set as they develop as
learners. DCSF expect schools to make this shift by having “the
confidence to innovate and develop approaches to personalising
learning” and to “put personalising learning at the heart of their
vision for transforming teaching and learning” They
will need to provide compelling learning experiences for their

A compelling learning experience:
• gives learners a sense of autonomy, including the chance to think
critically, make decisions, take responsibility and manage risks
• offers opportunities for cooperation and collaboration
• broadens horizons and raises aspirations, offering contexts that
challenge learners and encourage them to step outside their comfort
• is real and relevant, connecting learning at school to the world
beyond the classroom
• has a clear sense of audience and purpose provides contexts that
draw together several aspects of learning: connecting different
subject disciplines, focusing on a specific subject, or linking
learning through cross curricular dimensions or the development of
• has clear learning outcomes relating to what learners need to know
and understand, the skills they will acquire and areas of personal
Cross-curriculum dimensions - A planning guide for schools - ISBN
978-1-84721-919-0 - QCA/09/4066


What have I got wrong? what are the educational concepts that underpin
'personalised learning'?

Philip Griffin

Jun 18, 2009, 3:27:48 PM6/18/09
to John Pallister, ePortfolios and PLTs

Version 2!

At our staff meeting tonight, we had a presentation by our EYFS staff about the Foundation Stage Curriculum. It was striking how it has developed. Although appalled by the amount of record keeping involved, at its heart was the same learner centric vision as is at the heart of the eportfolio process. In the EYFS learners choose from a range of activities, they are led to the learning rather than being forced to undertake activities. Learning is seen as a pleasurable activity and they are taught how to learn. Evidence is collected by observation, through post it notes and photographs. A folder is developed, in which all of these post it notes and photographs are collected, categorised and cross referenced against the statements in the EYFS. Each child is observed for a day and the teacher compiles the record at the end of the day, a process which can take a couple of hours every evening.

Now none of this is electronic, although I've been trying to interest various parties in making it so. A mobile device on which images and video can be captured, sound can be recorded, and notes can be made and delivered straight into an eportfolio makes obvious sense. Why are all our record systems in primary, even the ones produced this year, paper not electronic? Another argument another day.

We start off in the first stages of education, putting the learner and his or her experience of the world first. We harness the innate love of learning inherant in the majority of children to make them want to find out more. It seems the next stages of education, primary and secondary schools, then move away from this learner centric vision.

Assessment for Learning has improved the situation in many schools- my experience is that it is gaining hold in primary schools in our area. Indeed it is a major element of all our schools plans- every lesson has clear LOCSC (Learning Objective, Context and Success Criteria). This combined with children planning their own learning within a topic decided by the National Curriculum has led to them taking more ownership of their education. AfL is partly about personalisation of learning, with different learners working at difference Success Criteria or on a different context. It is also about learners comparing and improving their work using collaborative marking.

Here are many of the elements of a portfolio of work. It is a matter of selecting quality work from the many pieces produced. However, it is not an eportfolio as the material is not electronic.

We've been trying to built an eportfolio of quality work by our Y6 learners to take to secondary school with them. We are lucky in that our LA has the same learning platform in primary and secondary, and that for most of the children transferring their eportfolio is therefore easy. I know that some will argue that a learning platform is not a true eportfolio, but at present it is the easiest alternative in our circumstances. The learners are familiar with it and can quickly create new material, or bring in examples from elsewhere. With our handheld computers however, our Y6 are in an unusual and fortunate position.

So an eportfolio could become a part of a learning journey from 3 to 14. An adult, in the case of EYFS and KS1 selecting material and posting it on the eportfolio site, via mobile phone, handheld computer, camera and video. Later, some of a learners work might be scanned in, and work undertaken on classroom computers added. By the end of primary, children could have access to their own cheap (ish) handheld device and be able to add content at school or at home. The eportfolio would allow a learners progress to be visible to all, should increase parental engagement.


2009/6/11 John Pallister <>

Philip Griffin

Follow me at

ICT Coordinator
Assessment for Learning Coordinator
Radstock Primary School

Leading Teacher Primary ICT
Wokingham LA

National Association of Primary Education Council Member

ICTopus Management Committee

John Pallister

Jun 18, 2009, 3:48:16 PM6/18/09
to ePortfolios and PLTs
Conclusion: Assessment for learning big part of personalised
learning; Curriculum choice big part of personalised learning; AFL
beginning to happen slowly - therefore personalised learning must be
starting to happen ; Close link between AFL and ePortfolio process-
therefore ePortfolio process can support personalised learning; to
allow learners curriculum choice they must have access to a learner
facing curriculum; they must have the skills to manage their own
learning ; they must have the skills that they need to operate in a
personal learning environment.

If personalised learning is beginning to happen, are we ready for it?

___________________________- with a bit of reasoning?

Although there are many ‘Drivers’ for personalised learning, the term
itself does mean different things to different people. Having been
‘thrown in’ to educational agendas and discussions, a lot of people
are talking about ‘personalised learning’. Frequently they are talking
about different things. This has created a situation where schools and
teachers are generally quite confused about what it is that they are
being told that they need to implement, introduce or support.

Assessment for learning and curriculum choice feature as key
components in most definitions of personalised learning, with the need
for a shift from teaching to learning being identified in all
discussions on personalised learning. Assessment for learning has
been a priority for a number of years, if it is ‘happening’ in
schools, it would follow that personalised learning, to a greater or
lesser degree would also be happening. If we add in the ‘curriculum
choice’ ingredient we would move a little closer to ‘personalised
learning’. Learners would be following the assessment for learning
‘process’; making choices about their own curriculum; with their
teachers advising, guiding and supporting.

The much heralded shift from teaching to learning is happening, albeit
quite slowly.

Yesterday’s learners followed their Destiny; their teachers planned
their learning; they followed the pre-planned journey, often
reluctantly, often influenced by distractions provided by the
technology and media rich environment that they increasingly had to
operate in. The experiences and expectations of today’s learners are
different from that of previous generations. The opportunities and
stimuli offered by the planned learning journey have to compete with
those available from other sources. Learners have learning choices to
make even if their school is still emphasising the teaching and have
not prepared their learners to manage their own learning.

Whether planned or otherwise today’s learners find themselves having
to take decisions about their learning. Many will not have had the
opportunities to develop the skills that they need to manage their own
learning and to survive and thrive in this personal learning
environment. They will be disadvantaged.

At the core of current national initiatives is an ambition to improve
children and young people’s lives by providing them with a curriculum
that would enable them to become: successful learners, confident
individuals and responsible citizens. This national curriculum,
defines what learners are expected to experience and be able to do at
all stages. While schools are being encouraged to personalise
learning; to give learners choice, voice and control over their own
learning, they also have to ensure that all learners follow the
prescribed curriculum.

In addition to being able to select from the curriculum opportunities
offered by their school they will also be able to benefit from those
available from a wide range of other sources. They will decide what is
appropriate to their learning needs or plans. They will follow a
personalised learning journey, sharing their thinking and reflections
with their teachers, peers and others. Schools and providers will
need to investigate how they can make sure that their curriculum
‘offer’ is visible and accessible to learners.

While a lot of the debate and confusion about personalised learning
centres on who personalises the learning; the teacher for the learner,
or the learner for themselves, there would appear to some agreement
about what a learner will do when they operate in their personal
learning environment. They will need to be self motivated and self
regulated, making decisions about what they need to learn, how and
when they learn; they will have a ‘say’, a voice in the design of
their learning experiences. They will be expected to reflect on their
learning; identifying how they can improve and exercising choice as
they develop as independent, lifelong learners.

Every thing that will be discussed and explored in this community will
rely on the ePortfolio process; a process that is consistent with the
assessment for learning principles and that is capable of supporting
personalised learning, whatever definition is adopted.

Shift happens slowly; but without the shift towards personalised
learning, the ePortfolio process has little to offer the learner. As
a product the ePortfolio can record evidence of achievement,
experience or competence that the learner could use to support their
transition to employment, training or Higher Education. Simply as a
product, without the active reflection component, it will not
contribute to the learning process.

Without the commitment, time and space that would allow the ePortfolio
process to be embedded into everyday practice, discussions on tools,
technology and supporting processes will be of little value.

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