Some thoughts on personalisation …

Screen Shot 2014-03-11 at 15.42.35I am working on personalisation already quite some time (26 years) and would like to reflect in this blogpost a bit about the different notions and perceptions I learned to know about personalisation.
So some terms first:
Basically there is adaptability and adaptivity. Adaptability in its basic form describes the fact that a system can be adapted by the user. In my definition this close to customization. Adaptivity describes the possibility of an information system to adapt to a user. When you do adaptation in human-computer systems I use a process model of several phases in which either the user of the system can take the adaptation initiative. Out of these 4-5 phases and the different options one can define a whole spectrum of adaptive system approaches.
I started my research in the field of user modelling and adaptive systems. I like the work of Anthony Jameson about the process of personalisation. Anthony gave quite some lectures and workshops about user modelling and personalisation. Basically he describes implicit and explicit user modelling approaches but over the years of course also the rich source of social media and user tracking with implicit methods became huge. I have written some articles about this change from user modelling on the web and user context modelling in ubiquitous computing. Currently with all new sensor devices and technologies we are on the edge to a completely new scale of user modelling. In this context of course Learning Analytics is the topic of time. I think LA is a nice combination of making all the data we have about users very visible and also making it very clear that we need to ask the question first what you want to know from the data. This is not always the case but I think in a lot of educational scenarios where the tasks and role are predefined this holds.
When you have certain information you can adapt, but of course this has changed at the point in time when you have more information available that you could use. So at this point basically the approach changed to lets first define why we would like to adapt something. In learning you mostly do adaptation based on assumption of optimisation of efficient, effectiveness, or enjoyment.
Each of these adaptation goals has then different models why something becomes more efficient, effective, or enjoyable when it is personalised. Over the years here my perception clearly shifted from adaptive human-computer systems that become better because the computer suggests the rights things to do towards systems in which the optimisation of the learning is related to the expressive power a user gets with an adaptive computer system.
So basically speaking by having a more powerful tool humans can do better things. Humans have more personal experiences with more flexible tools as they give them more expressive power.
So personalisation is more about the things you do it is less about the things that are done to you ūüėČ
to be continued …

New IEEE article on sensor technology for learning support

The new Bulletin of the IEEE Technical Committee on Learning Technology (Volume 16) is now available at:

I have one overview article on sensors for learning support:

Abstract: One major technology revolution of the last 2-3 years is the broad integration of sensor technology into every day environments and end user products. This article explores the potential and possibilities of sensor technology for learning support. The author gives several examples and structures the potential implications according to different typical applications of learning technology.

An Jan Schneider a PhD Student of our group has an Article on the presentation trainer with which he also has won the demo award at the European Conference on Technology Enhanced Learning:

Abstract: The increasing accessibility of sensors has made it possible to create instructional tools able to present immediate feedback to the learners. To study how this type of instruction is able to support learning, we developed the Presentation Trainer, a tool whose purpose is to train the non-verbal communication skills for public presentations. In this paper we present our findings about studying immediate feedback based on a first round of user tests with the Presentation Trainer.

New publications about sensors and smart city learning

Bernardo Tabuenca has published two new articles. He is doing work in the area of integrating life-long learning services into every day environments and linking them to the objects we use every day in our studies and learning activities.

Title: NFC LearnTracker: Seamless support for learning with mobile and sensor technology
Authors: Tabuenca, Bernardo
Kalz, Marco
Specht, Marcus

Title: “Tap it again, Sam”: Harmonizing the frontiers between digital and real worlds in education
Authors: Tabuenca, Bernardo
Kalz, Marco
Specht, Marcus

The difference in mobile technologies

Yesterday I gave a masterclass about mobile learning, you can watch the dutch video at:

or participate at the masterclass in dutch at (it’s free! thanks to sponsoring of SURF Academy)

One interesting issue of discussion was the question what different affordances different mobile technologies can offer and how this has consequences on the instructional design of mobile learning. I think this is definitely an interesting issue and if someone knows any research papers on this issue I would be interested to get some recommendations.

Conferences 2014

So already lots of interesting things for 2014, prepare for 2014 I will personally contribute to the following events so far:

  • Methodologies and Intelligent Systems for TEL, Salamanca, 4th-6th June 2014¬†misTEL 2014
  • 3rd International conference on Advances in Computing, Communications, and Informatics see
  • Ideas in Mobile Learning¬†Symposium, 6th – 7th March 2014, Watershed, Bristol UK,¬†
  • 20th International Conference on Collaboration and Technology,¬†
  • Die 12. e-Learning Fachtagung Informatik –¬†DeLFI 2014,¬†15. – 17. September 2014,¬†Universit√§t Freiburg,¬†

the obsession of reverse engineering drum machine beats …

I really like drum’n’bass ¬†and Jojo Mayer is one of my favorite drummers … in his TED X talk he talks about reverse engineering drum machine beats to play machine beats as a human. He talks about¬†creating the illusion of being a machine as a human … a fake … he talks about freeing himself as at the moment when he had developed the skills to play like a machine he could add emotion and improvisation …¬†really like this approach what would that mean about a post machine approach or a cybernetic approach … interesting perspective …

so humans that can compute the difference between 0 and 1 ūüėČ

check it out at


Ubuntu, Cheap Asus Laptop, and SSD

Just have setup an ASUS F201E with a SSD drive and Ubuntu on it. I will use that setup to test out some minimal setups and Ubuntu software.

This looks like a really good working machine.

  • Fast and responsive
  • Price of the complete setup together 300 Euros
  • Lightweight like a Macbook Air
  • I say all software free that I basically need beside special development stuff for OS X
  • Dropbox works good
  • LibreOffice is nice, some compatibility might come up
  • web-based iCLoud on an Ubuntu Laptop might be interesting


  • keyboard not that good as a MacBook one
  • trackpad strange if you are used to MacBook, with external mouse is ok, probably with more EMACS use this will be irrelevant ūüėČ
  • battery life not 5 hours or more but about 3 when you save
  • but Hei, at least I know more or less what eats up the disk space on my machine.
  • Some syncing difficult, so why is there no Evernote client for Ubuntu, the ones I tried have not made me enthusiast .
  • missing Jottacloud client

So more to come.


some upcoming talks


18th to 22 of November:¬†21st International Conference on Computers in Education¬†I will give a keynote on “We need mindful seamless learning technologies!”

12th November I am talking at the Onderwijsdagen OWD 2013 on Seamless Learning and Learning Analytics

7th November Workshop at the “De Haagse Hogeschool” in Den Haag I am giving a workshop and talk about mobile learning technologies.