It’s getting personal: The ethical and educational implications of personalised learning technology

Iris Huis in ’t Veld, Michael Nagenborg


Personalised learning systems—systems that predict learning needs to tailor education to the unique learning needs of individual students—are gaining rapid popularity. Praise for educational technology is often focused on how technology will benefit school systems, but there is a lack of understanding of how it will affect the student and the learning process. By uncovering what the meaning of ‘personal’ is in educational philosophy and as embodied in the technology, we illustrate that these two understandings are different regarding the autonomy of the student. Personalised learning technology, therefore, bears the risk of failing to achieve its educational ideal of what personalisation should be. We also illustrate how personalised learning technology effects student autonomy by requiring the intensive tracking of the learning process, exposing them to privacy and data protection risks. We do not claim that education does not need technology, but we want to illustrate the importance of values as drivers of innovation.

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