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ADAPTIVE LEARNING: What is it; how does it work?

It is a fact that every student is unique and each one learns differently even when taught by the same professor, in the same classroom and under the same circumstances.  Some students are fast learners while others learn at different paces.  This has been the case since the history of education due to the fact that it is one professor for 20 and up to some times 300 students.  However, adaptive learning may remediate and shift how content is delivered and create a personalized learning environment for every student.

Devoting time to each student in need in a large classroom is simply not feasible.  Since not all students learn at the same pace, delivering the same curriculum at the same time to students will not drive improved or better results to those students who need additional time to grasp the concepts and move on with the rest of the class.  Consequently, some students will stay behind the learning curve and fail because they cannot keep up with the work.  To alleviate this situation, it is when technology plays a huge role and adaptive learning comes into play.  It is an educational method that uses computers as interactive teaching devices.  Computers adapt the presentation of educational materials to student’s learning levels according to students’ answer.  This allows a personalized education for almost every student’s needs or at least this is the promise.

How does adaptive learning software know each student’ curricular needs and how does it decide the content it delivers to students?  Well, it basically profiles students as they interact with the software.  It learns how students behave based on the vast amount of data it collects from students’ answers.  Thus, if students demonstrate mastery of a subject, adaptive learning presents students with a different and more advanced content.  On the other hand, if a student struggle with the content present to her/him, the software keeps reinforcing the material until the student learns it and is able to continue thru the curriculum.  This technology is great because students will learn the material at their own pace independently of their learning speed.

Adaptive learning technology will revolutionize the teaching and learning experience for both, faculty and students.  Nowadays, students still have to adapt to the curriculum to keep up with the course material.  Nonetheless, adaptive learning turns this concept around because it adapts the curriculum to the students’ learning styles and learning speed.

In a nutshell, adaptive learning promises to improve student learning by adapting curriculum content to students learning style and learning pace.  It will truly create personalized learning for each student.  Without this technology, helping every single student would simply be impossible in the traditional classrooms.

References:

http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2013/04/04/adaptive-learning-could-reshape-higher-ed-instruction-essay

http://edgrowthadvisors.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/Learning-to-Adapt-White-Paper_Education-Growth-Advisors_March-2013.pdf

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