5 Things You Should Know About Adaptive Learning

When we think about popular software, we picture sites like Amazon, Netflix, and Hulu: the pros of personalization.

As Amazon users shop, they buy everything from toilet paper to college textbooks, dog food, and nutritional supplements depending on lifestyle and AI-generated product recommendations.

As viewers watch Netflix, they stream endless hours of reality television or hard-hitting dramas or true-crime documentaries depending on personal preference and, more often than not, previous search requests.

These sites don’t discriminate based on age, interests, intellect or socioeconomic status, and neither does adaptive learning, an educational model changing the landscape of learning from a one-size-fits-all atmosphere, to a customized tool for students of all ages. Regardless of learning ability and prior knowledge, adaptive learning helps any student willing to learn.

What is Adaptive Learning?

Adaptive learning is a technology-based or online educational system that analyzes a student’s performance in real time and modifies teaching methods based on that data. Think AI meets dedicated math tutor meets personalized engagement.

To help you better understand the basics and benefits of adaptive learning, we’re breaking down a few must-knows.

  1. Adaptive learning helps teachers as well as students: As learners use adaptive learning-based software, teachers can analyze the data and better understand each student’s individualized needs. Figuring out everyone’s strengths and weaknesses can take hours of one-on-one tutoring, especially with large class sizes and shy students reluctant to initiate private time. With adaptive learning, teachers can immediately see where students are struggling and, more importantly, which methods of teaching are helping them improve and master the material. Everything AL software initiates to increase a student’s understanding, teachers can replicate in a classroom setting.
  2. Adaptive learning engages the area between a student’s comfort zone and frustration zone: Intelligent AL technology accesses the Zone of Proximal Development (ZDP) for optimum mastery of the material. ZDP is the area in between a student’s comfort zone and their frustration zone. It’s the area where students are not repeating material they’ve already mastered nor challenging themselves at a level so challenging that they become frustrated, discouraged, and reluctant to keep learning. This customized level of difficulty is designed to create smart students who aren’t afraid to solve problems and creatively work out solutions, both in the classroom and outside of it.
  3. School and Universities across the country have already adopted adaptive learning and personalization techniques: Elementary schools in Baltimore County have implemented Reading Counts, an adaptive learning program that suggests titles based on areas readers can improve on – such as vocabulary, reading comprehension, and fluency. Carnegie Mellon University created the Open Learning Initiative (OLI), a course-building software that uses adaptive learning technology to link learning experiences with course performance. The platform allows students to learn at an individualized pace, receive constant feedback, and participate in virtual labs, simulations, and other application-based educational activities. School districts throughout the U.S. recently implemented Dreambox, an adaptive math program for K-8 learners, and experienced a meaningful increase in achievement gain. Adaptive learning is spreading to a classroom near you – will you be on board?
  4. When it comes to adaptive learning, BE PICKY: Make sure the adaptive learning software you choose is doing what it’s meant to be doing – challenging students at an appropriate level, moving at a student’s own pace, and emulating the student-teacher experience. With adaptive learning, students should not be told the answer but instead challenged to strategize solutions based on individualized feedback and live progress analysis. Students should never feel rushed or bored by the material in front of them, and AL software should always be engaging. If your student is disinterested, they’ll never be motivated to learn. Finally, make sure your student is right for adaptive learning technology. Some kids prefer more human interaction, and that’s perfectly fine!
  5. The U.S. Department of Education is investing in adaptive learning: The government has introduced a national technology plan (NETP) that endorses the uses technology and adaptive learning for personalized teaching and constant improvement. The ultimate thumbs up for edtech.

There are endless benefits to adaptive learning technology – students can track improvement and develop a sense of personal responsibility for their academic progress, students who’ve fallen behind on a subject have additional resources to draw from, and teachers can develop lesson plans tailored specifically to the classroom of students before them.

The adaptive learning model even extends beyond binge-watching platforms and educational models. AL has been implemented to improve training techniques within NASA and branches of the U.S. military, boasting revolutionary success and changing the way we approach educational improvement.

Invest in adaptive learning and whip your students in shape – NASA-style.

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