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

Iris Huis in 't Veld, Michael Herbert Nagenborg

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Personalized 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 the 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. Personalized learning technology, therefore, bears the risk of failing to achieve its educational ideal of what personalization should be. We also illustrate how personalized 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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)44-62
JournalJournal of Philosophy in Schools
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 13 May 2019



  • EdTech
  • personalized learning technology
  • adaptive personalization
  • privacy
  • autonomy

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