We supplied this definition list to help discussion during interviews and meetings. The starting point for these definitions was the JISC Information Environment Glossary located at
During the process we found it useful to further distinguish between Adaptive Personalisation based on User Activity (APUA) and Adaptive Personalisation based on Data held elsewhere (APOD).
Personalisation is a function invoked by the Presentation component within a Portal or other Network Service. Personalisation is defined as: 'The ability of a Network Service to be shaped or re-shaped so as to better meet the individual needs or wants of a user' (adapted from O'Looney [JPS-20])
1 Types of Personalisation:
1.1 Customisation (Explicit or Referential Personalisation) - The selection of options is under the direct control of the user who explicitly chooses to include or exclude options.
1.2 Adaptive Personalisation (Implicit or Inferential Personalisation) - The availability of options is based on knowledge about users gained from tracking user activity and/or other sources of user information. The system identifies items of potential interest to the user and controls what is made available to the user. Note, this form of personalisation may involve varying degrees of user awareness of, and involvement in, the process. Adaptive Personalisation is usually based on one of the following two technologies or approaches:
1.2.1 Collaborative Filtering - an algorithm which allows a service to identify items of potential interest to a particular user based on the preferences of other users with similar characteristics and/or activity records. (e.g. http://www.amazon.com )
1.2.2 Rules Based Filtering - a database driven system based on preset rules about relationships between items and user profiles. The user profiles may be created by the user, based on tracking user activity or based on data held elsewhere (e.g. student records, staff management information system or personnel record.
2 Outcomes of Personalisation
The possible outcomes of applying a personalisation function include:
2.1 changes in the way information is presented to the user;.
2.2 changes to the content of the information presented (e.g. different search targets in a digital library);
2.3 availability of enhanced 'history' information for users;
2.4 different levels of access authorisation (e.g. a student on course x will only have access to y learning materials, or a student at z institution will only have access to resources to which z institution has subscribed).