Although information and communication technology (ICT) is commonly used in education for a couple of decades there is still a lot of discussion about the way it should be used in order to improve the teaching and learning results. One of the frequently raised issues is the usefulness of ICT for personalizing learners’ experience. A number of different approaches can be observed during the recent years but they could be divided into two main categories. The solutions developed by those who believe technology can “replace” the teacher and play a role of an intelligent tutor. The main stream of that approach is be represented by AHS (Adaptive Hypermedia Systems) or Intelligent Tutorial Systems. Such systems are frequently associated with the research of Peter Brusilovsky, professor from the University of Pittsburgh and a chair of the School of Information Science, whose works appeared first in mid-nineties of the previous century. Brusilovsky’s solutions are based on the use of Artificial Intelligence methods and techniques and represent the technical approach to personalization. Along with the increased presence of multimedia and mobile technologies in education another trend in personalization appeared, which can be generally described as the freedom for adapting the application interface and changing the settings in a way that it suits the learner best. But again, this is only technology and although personalized desktop or interface can establish more friendly or intuitive environment it does not change the way one learns and acquires new skills. In recent years the concept of big data and learning analytics are frequently used in the context of personalization. Big “educational players” like Pearson Education or Khan Academy claim they provide personalized learning based on the analysis of huge amounts of data describing the way how learners work and solve the problems they are given while learning. Such different interpretations of a word “personalization” have led to the attempts of distinguishing among various types of usage of that term and in consequence two other words are being used in parallel: individualization and differentiation. Barbara Bray and Kathleen McClaskey known from their research on personalized learning elaborated a chart[1] which role is to clarify the differences in these terms. They define personalization as a process that is learner-centred while differentiation and individualization are teacher-centred. In personalized learning the learner is driving their learning and actively participates in the design of their learning, while in differentiation the teacher adjusts learning needs for groups of learners and designs instruction based on the learning needs of different groups of learners. The teacher also plays a key role in individualization where (s)he accommodates learning needs for the individual learner and customizes instruction based on the learning needs of the individual learner. According to this classification the research project described on this website is aimed at individualization of learning, with some prospects of being extended to more personalized learning in the future.

[1] The recent version of the chart can be viewed on the  Personalize learning website or on the Slideshare [retrieved 30.08.2014]