'One of the main tasks of education today consists of preparing students for lifelong learning. That means, first of all, enabling student to learn to think independently and efficiently.'
Giest & Lompscher, 2003
Personalisation emerged as a strategy for meeting the needs of the 21st Century Learner as part of the Harnessing Technology e-strategy (DfES 2006), and is central to the 2020 Vision for education (DfES 2006). While this is a strategic and pedagogic approach, rather than a technological issue, the affordances of new technologies present new opportunities to provide personalised learning environments where systems adapt to the needs of the learner rather than learners to systems (Green et al. 2006). As we see learner use of the internet become more ubiquitous e-learning solutions must meet higher expectations of learner expectations (Green and Hannon, 2007) and pedagogical approaches (Laurillard, 2002).
For learning providers this provides a cultural challenge where rapid technological innovation places pressure on existing structures and staff development. The range of tools available to tutors and learners is growing exponentially and boundaries between formal and informal learning are blurring alongside those between personal and institutional spaces. E-Learning generally exists in this space seeking to bridge personal learning to institutional objectives and vice versa. As the range of tools available increase so do the potential costs of licenses and integration placing further financial constraints on possibilities.
Meeting the Challenge
In 2007, ULCC saw the opportunities presented in these new strategies and working with partner providers began to explore Open Source solutions to meet the changing needs of the sector. Open Source afforded two key advantages: free access to the code base has made complex system integration possible across a range of systems; and license free cost-models have reduced the cost-of-ownership for learning providers. An open source model has also allowed other providers to benefit from developments and a genuinely effective community of practice has emerged. Out of this ULCC have developed their nationally recognised Personalisation of Learning Framework: