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 😉
to be continued …