Creating Individualised Learning Pathways


Subjects often only offer a single pathway towards completion and don’t provide students with opportunities to individualise the learning process. In many cases students are unable to bring their own perspectives and experiences to the fore and this can result in a depersonalised learning experience that leads to disengagement (Conole, 2010). Providing students with opportunities to customise their experience through alternative ways of navigating the subject, engaging with the materials and delivering assessment items allows them to create their own learning pathway. This can be achieved without huge changes to the learning design, but through small increments like being less prescriptive in certain areas and providing students with more options in other areas. Alternatively, flexible and adaptive course designs can allow students to proceed at their own pace through differentiated or individualised pathways based on their demonstration of knowledge and competency.


The goal of individualised learning is to improve students’ learning by ensuring they ‘receive the particular kinds of learning experiences and support they need, when they need those resources, and in a form well suited to each learner’ (EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative, 2015).

While there is as yet little research to show the educational justification for personalised learning approaches, there is general acknowledgement that a choice-rich learning environment at least allows students to:

Digital technologies foster a choice-adaptive learning environment that provides a means of integrated autonomous learning and assessment. Additionally, publishers and content providers are adding personalised learning tools and affordances to their existing systems to strengthen learner engagement.

In Practice


EMT409 Adult Learning and Teaching Technology

Teaching Staff

Alissa Brabin


The nature and content of this subject is quite fluid, so in an effort to keep abreast of new technologies and ensure students were receiving choice in their study, the final topic gives students a choice in what they learn about and how they choose the learn about it.


The final topic in the subject provides basic information on six new and emerging technologies, and technology issues. Students are required to select two of these technologies to research in more detail and add to their blog for the final assessment. Topics include: 3D and 4D printing; Augmented/Virtual Reality; Ethics, privacy and cyber theft; Inclusivity and ESL. This choice over topics allows students to identify issues relevant to their vocation/interests, and make sound connection between the theory and practice in this subject.


Personalised learning journeys can be provided through flexible or adaptive lessons and resources that provide individualised pathways through content based on student knowledge, behaviours and special needs. These learning pathways often use adaptive learning technology are often used to create these kinds of learning pathways. Alternatively, flexible and adaptive course designs that use conditional release of content material can allow students to proceed at their own pace through differentiated or individualised pathways based on their demonstration of knowledge and competency.

How to personalise learning:


Technology-related means for individualising the learning process are provided through:

Additional Resources

Conole, G. (2010). Personalisation through technology-enhanced learning. In J. O’Donaghue (Ed.), Technology supported environment for personalized learning: Methods and Case Studies. Hershey, PA: Information Science Publishing.

Derradji, S. (2015). Harnessing the power of personalised education to promote lifelong learning in accounting. Smart Sparrow Showcase. Retirieved from

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative, (2015). 7 things you should know about individualised learning. Retrieved from

Feldstein, M. & Hill, P. (2016, March 7). Personalized learning: What it really is and why it really matters. Educause Review, March-April 2016. Retrieved from

Fisher, L. S., Gardner, J. G., Brinthaupt, T. M., & Raffo, D. M. (2014). Conditional release of course materials: Assessing best practice recommendations. Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 10(2), 228‐239. Retrieved from

Gardner, J. G., Fisher, L. S., Raffo, D. M., & Brinthaupt, T. M. (2011). Best practices for using conditional release in online classes. International Journal of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning, 8(10), 3-16. Retrieved from

Irwin, B., Hepplestone, S., Holden, G., Parkin, H. J., & Thorpe, L. (2013). Engaging students with feedback through adaptive release. Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 50(1), 51-61.

Tuckman, B. W. (2007). The effect of motivational scaffolding on procrastinators’ distance learning outcomes. Computers & Education, 49(2), 414-422. doi: 10.1016/j.compedu.2005.10.002