Opinion Technology

Personalisation without People

I just finished reading Audrey Watters’ wrap up of blog posts debating “personalized learning”. I’ve read a couple of these already (not all) but what I find interesting in this debate is, as Audrey suggests, the ideology at play. What the debate highlights for me is the effort that some people will go to maintain their power and a sense of control. It’s an ideology that thinks that it’s worth the effort to come up with ever more complex maps, data capture points and elaborate algorithms to anticipate learner behaviour, rather than just asking. Let’s spend millions of dollars on making learning more opaque, harder to access and understand. It’s an ideology that insists on making education more complex, more expensive, more incomprehensible than it all ready is so that they can maintain power and control.

You know what would make learning more personalised? Choice.

You know what would make choosing easier? Empowerment.

You know what would make empowerment occur? Understanding.

You know what would make understanding easier? Explanation.

How about we think about learners as people – intelligent people – rather than data points? How can you have a debate about personalisation without giving people a voice? Surely empowered people can be a empowered learners and personalisation simply becomes the default position?

As Charlie Brooker clearly observes in his post on the recent Facebook experiment “the more personalised any online service appears to be, the less it thinks of you as a person”.

By Tim Klapdor

Passionate about good design, motivated by the power of media and enchanted by the opportunities of technology.

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