Section Three: University of South Australia and Personalised Learning

Blom and Monk (2003) explain personalisation as the ability to change and modify function, interface and actual content to cater to the users needs. Van Harmelen (2006) states that personalisation can be conducted by either the user, or by others on be-half of the user. The University of South Australia’s Moodle site, Learn Online, has the ability for course coordinators to modify the function, content and interface so by Blom and Monk’s (2003) definition of personalisation it caters to these. The Moodle is being personalised on behalf of students by the course coordinator. Moodle has certain restrictions on how much can be changed and edited, however this does not mean it is not a personalised learning environment.

Attwell (2007) states that personalised learning environments are made up of everything we use in our daily lives to learn. According to this definition every part of the UniSA’s Moodle, and all tutorials and lectures make up every students personal learning environment because these are a part of their every day lives that they engage with to learn.

One particular section of the Learn Online environment that caters to one of Attwell’s (2007) uses for a personalised learning space is the e-portfolio. Attwell (2007) explains that personalised learning environments can be used to store and display work that can be used as evidence of competence and qualification to future employees. The e-portfolio section on Learn Online does just this, where students are able to sort, store and give access to their work completed at university. There are ‘showcase’ options and the ability to show your work off in particular social groups on and off the e-portfolio site.

Van Harmelen (2006) explains that personalised learning environments were established to aid students in having all their work, learning content, and ideas in one accessible area. UniSA’s Learn Online Moodle again is a great example of this as it holds all these things in one area. Students have access to all their courses on one page, the UniSA Learn Online Moodle, and can then go into one of these courses for more options specific to the course. Each course has all the course information, required readings, and course content in one place which displayed in chronological order. Forums and blogs are made available for students to share ideas, information and answers with one another and almost all assessment pieces are submitted to and retained in Moodle.

The personalised nature of UniSA’s learning environment makes me more responsible for my own learning and a much more independent learner. I have found what I am required to read, view and participate in each weeks tasks and I am able to keep up these tasks myself. The Moodle allows me to be more independent in my academic choices as I able to select from a range of readings that better suit my interests. The notion that personalised learning environments promote more independent learning and puts more responsibility on the learner (Attwell 2007).

The personalised learning at UniSA gives students the ability to choose what articles and content they interact with. This encourages students to be more aware of what they want to learn, and how they best learn those things. When students area aware of this, their learning is more effective (Campbell, Robinson, Neelands, Hewston & Mazzoli, 2007). Campell, Robinson, Neelands, Hewston & Mazzoli (2007) also state that personalisation in learning gives the opportunity for students to participate in more self-assessment, and the ability to use these personalised learning environments outside of teaching hours helps create students that are more self-reliant, self-motivated and self-regulated.

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