What is Adaptive Learning?

The concept of adaptive learning is the delivery of education or training that utilises technology and data to provide an individually customised learning program to students, intelligently adapting to their learning needs.

In the last few years, the idea of adaptive learning has gained more and more interest due to new product developments, the creation of partnerships between elearning software providers and education publishers, and a significant investment of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in adaptive learning.

Adaptive learning

Adaptive learning is likely the future of corporate and academic learning, but we may not be living in the future quite yet.

 

Adaptive Learning Defined

You may have heard of adaptive learning, or any of its many synonyms – such as adaptive instruction or intelligent tutoring systems. What the term exactly means however is still unclear to many.

The basic premise of adaptive learning is using technology to improve education and training by providing individualised learning programs to students based on data that is gathered both before and throughout the learning process. The best adaptive learning platforms use some form of data mining to put together learning content for students that’s optimised for their learning needs. The platform uses data that it continually gathers when a student interacts with any learning content.

Such a platform can determine which learning activities, delivered through what medium and in what sequence will help improve the student’s learning.

Using adaptive learning, each student goes through a highly individualised learning experience, which should provide much better learning results.

 

Does it Work?

Current research on the benefits of adaptive learning is promising, but so far most studies have been quite limited in scope. One study by Education Growth Advisors (EGA) showed that since forming a partnership with Knewton (an adaptive learning platform provider), pass rates at Arizona State University have gone up by 18 percent and withdrawals from maths courses have reduced by 47 percent.

After Smart Sparrow tutorials were used in an engineering course at the University of New South Wales, drop outs decreased by 55 percent.

 

What’s the Catch?

Careful preparation and execution is vital to the success of an adaptive learning implementation. Learning institutions have to work closely together with adaptive learning platform providers in order to set up an adaptive learning environment that achieves the envisioned results.

Adaptive learning also only provides limited benefit for entry-level courses, which makes it more difficult to scale.

With new adaptive learning providers entering the market and partnerships between platform providers and learning organisations being set up, it looks like adaptive learning is here to stay and develop.

Adaptive learning is well on its way to revolutionising the entire education and training sector, even though there is still a long way to go until it becomes the standard for corporate and academic learning.

If you are working in the education or training industry, now is the time to get involved in adaptive learning if you want to be ahead of the curve.

 

Further Reading:

http://thejournal.com/articles/2014/05/14/adaptive-learning-are-we-there-yet.aspx

http://www.forbes.com/sites/ccap/2014/10/22/rethinking-higher-ed-a-case-for-adaptive-learning/

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