Challenges in personalisation: supporting mobile science inquiry learning across contexts

Jones, Ann; Scanlon, Eileen; Gaved, Mark; Blake, Canan; Collins, Trevor; Clough, Gill; Kerawalla, Lucinda; Littleton, Karen; Mulholland, Paul; Petrou, Marilena and Twiner, Alison (2013). Challenges in personalisation: supporting mobile science inquiry learning across contexts. Research and Practice in Technology Enhanced Learning, 8(1) pp. 21–42.



The Personal Inquiry project (PI) aimed to develop and implement personal inquiries in secondary schools in order to motivate engagement in scientific inquiry through its focus on inquiries of personal interest to young learners. This paper describes the authors’ experiences working with teachers in one school over three years, iteratively developing the nQuire toolkit* and pedagogical support across different inquiries which can be used in and across different contexts, ranging from the classroom to field trips and at home. As nQuire is web based, and can be accessed in different locations and on a range of networked devices it supports mobile inquiry learning and is the main resource for bridging between contexts. This paper discusses issues related to developing personal inquiries in schools, working across different contexts and focusing on three aspects of personalisation: choice, personal relevance and learner responsibility. It discusses the challenges faced when developing personalised inquiries in science, both in more traditional classroom contexts and in the less formal environment of an after school club. Drawing on technology supported inquiries from both these contexts it reflects on some of the constraints and tensions in providing learners with choice in their inquiries, identifying both the constraints and successes.

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