What are Adaptive Learning Technologies?

Adaptive learning technologies refer to software and online platforms that adjust to individual students’ needs as they learn. According to a paper commissioned by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and authored by Education Growth Advisors, adaptive learning is a “sophisticated, data-driven, and in some cases, nonlinear approach to instruction and remediation, adjusting to a learner's interactions and demonstrated performance level, and subsequently anticipating what types of content and resources learners need at a specific point in time to make progress." In this sense, contemporary educational tools are now capable of learning the way people learn; enabled by machine learning technologies, they can adapt to each student’s progress and adjust content in real-time or provide customized exercises when they need it. In higher education, many faculty envision these adaptive platforms as new, patient tutors that can provide personalized instruction on a large scale. There are two levels to adaptive learning technologies — the first platform reacts to individual user data and adapts instructional material accordingly, while the second leverages aggregated data across a large sample of users for insights into the design and adaptation of curricula.

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(1) How might this technology be relevant to the educational sector you know best?

  • add your response here- kevin-johnson kevin-johnson Feb 1, 2015I read the paper described above, and although the authors do not presume to be showing the whole spectrum of adaptive learning companies, they present three that operate in the K to 12 sector: Cerego, Knewton, and Loudcloud. To some extent I have explored Cerego and Knewton. You can build for free on Cerego, and it provides, in my experience, the best approach to teaching core vocabulary. Knewton looks very powerful. Cerego, for example, has great potential in teaching language, so can assist EFL or ESL instruction. It can also best teach core vocabulary, and because you can build freely on the site any educator can do so. With Knewton, the idea is that it can differentiate teaching to such an extent that teachers newly empowered with the rich data, can best intervene to support all learners. This https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BzpxpOfcUG0 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BzpxpOfcUG0 is a good video on Cerego. And this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LldxxVRj4FU is a good short video on Knewton.
  • - cbsteighner cbsteighner Feb 14, 2015I'm seeing a lot of computer adaptive tests in the K-12 sector (Smarter Balanced and STAR are the two we use). I like having my students use these assessment tools because it gives me an accurate picture of where they are at that point in time. I also have a few struggling students that have been using an adaptive math program. I feel it have been a positive experience. I like that I am able to use the data to facilitate further conversations and lessons with those students (either individually or in a small group). The data takes the guessing game out of what the students know/don't know, making my instructional time more relevant and efficient.
  • - jon.k.price jon.k.price Feb 17, 2015I agree with Cheryl above (too bad these designs aren't getting this message out in the criticism of CSS). If you dig into the most recent developments of what Khan is doing with their platform analytics you can see that these algorithms are quite powerful. Many people aren't discussing Khan Academy anymore, but my comments aren't about the videos - instead on how the problem strands are constructed based on student knowledge. Its this construct and dashboard that we have seen to be very helpful.
  • - cristiana.mattos cristiana.mattos Feb 18, 2015This technology has great potential, but in Brazil the companies providing some service in this area are still at a very primary stage of development. I am anxious to see this technology mature, because it will be really useful to personalize learning!
  • There are some interesting possibilities with adaptive learning when used as an integral part of a the learning management system ecosystem. We are starting to see this functionality added to LMS platforms. The possibility of personalizing learning and providing interventions based on a student's progress through digital content holds great promise. We are still in the early stages though. To realize the potential of this functionality will require a shift in how we deliver instruction. It will also require that content providers will begin to allow their content to be embedded and used in these systems. We also will need to rethink formative and summative assessment strategies so we can leverage and how they drive the analytics that will feed information back into the adaptive learning systems. - gtdeyoung gtdeyoung

(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • - cbsteighner cbsteighner Feb 14, 2015 Implications for formative vs. summative assessment. Smarter Balanced is all the rage right now due to CCSS, but what are other platforms students can use to help personalize and differentiate their learning experiences.
  • - jon.k.price jon.k.price Feb 17, 2015Agree with Cheryl again. The theme that may not be missing, but need for more elaboration on application is in how adaptive technologies are vital to the formative assessment processes.
  • Computer adaptive assessment (CAA): - kevin-johnson kevin-johnson Feb 1, 2015 the addition of intelligence so that the selection of test tasks is related to the characteristics of each individual. The test adapts to each person by using a computer algorithm to tailor the test to each specific examinee, based on what test makers regard as the most important characteristics. SBAC plans to use this type of testing for innovative assessment. CAA can use the current level of achievement, so that each student takes a different test tailored to their ability level as determined by the software. This approach works particularly well where a wide range of student abilities exist, as in statewide assessments. In traditional paper tests many items are wasted on individual students being either too easy or too hard. The precision of CAA allows for shorter and more effective testing, and can also provide more diagnostic data on specific areas of student weakness. CAAs are complex and creating and maintaining a well-constructed item pool represents an important challenge. CAA requires more test items than a traditional test. Stopping rules determine when and where to stop the test. If computers are to be used in testing, it seems wise to add intelligence to the process (CAA). Computer assessment will come; it is only a matter of when and how. (Reckase 2011, 1-3; 5; 10) Work Cited: Reckase, Mark D. “Computerized Adaptive Assessment (CAA): The Way Forward.” Policy Analysis for California Education and Rennie Center for Education Research & Policy. (May 2011). The Road Ahead for State Assessments. MA: Rennie Center for Education Research & Policy. Web. 15 November 2014. Many very big American teaching universities, including MIT, Harvard and Stanford have created samples of such solutions in the hope that the new Common Core framework (STEM-side) once adopted, could implement these creative and functional systems. Basically the US government would need to accept these concepts and fund them for the best success. The final line by Reckase is important, this will come, and it could be a huge bonus to teachers, allowing the assessment of items never possible before.- davidwdeeds davidwdeeds Feb 15, 2015agree- digitalroberto digitalroberto Feb 22, 2015In Denmark we have used CAA with succes for a couple of years in our national examinations (Biology and Geography), lower secondary education - claus.gregersen claus.gregersen Feb 23, 2015 Automated Systems One joke around school is that if each kid had a chip in his/her head, no one would have to take attendance. ;) Hey, could accomplish the same thing when each kid logs into the network every morning. Assessment, e.g., grading essays, as mentioned above, would be another chore handled by hardware/software. Learning Analytics just another AI function...hard to worry about privacy when it's a computer versus a human being doing the "snooping." Imagine a Preventative Maintenance System...an Internet of Things that would allow a, e.g., projector to announce when its bulb is about to fail. http://blog.kaseya.com/blog/2012/05/09/automated-education-systems-management-colleges-school-districts/ http://www.winfoware.com/products/education - davidwdeeds davidwdeeds Feb 8, 2015 This is already available on the infrastructure monitoring side if you are willing to pay for it- alex.podchaski alex.podchaski Feb 23, 2015alex.podchaski
    Course Accreditation. Perhaps this could be an automated system. Online learning presents a big opportunity and challenge. It makes education more accessible and affordable, and thus the elitists hate it passionately! As long as the decision process re: verifying, accepting, etc., credits is left up to humans, online learning will go nowhere. Educators who earned their degrees the traditional way will never accept that someone can attain their same level (of whatever?) with online degrees, even if -- oh, the irony -- their school offers online programs, even if the educators teach online courses themselves! True, the same biases could be built into the software, but if we make this a business versus education product impartiality could be reasonably assumed. No more arguing...the program would examine the course...yes or no. - davidwdeeds davidwdeeds Feb 15, 2015- Holly.Lu Holly.Lu Feb 21, 2015 [Editor's Note: Added here from RQ2 discussions.]

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on teaching, learning, or creative inquiry?

  • add your response here- kevin-johnson kevin-johnson Feb 1, 2015I think the potential is great. As mentioned above, Cerego delivers vocabulary and can be freely built upon. Teaching academic vocabulary is a major interest of K to 12 teachers, something that cannot be done using class time. With Cerego, you could put that into the homework realm, and the software with its patented algorithm based largely on distributed practice monitors the progress of each child, adapting to them as learners. I have used Cerego for my own learning, and find it incredible. The level of engagment, because tailored to me, is so strong that it engages like a game, but has 100% academic outcomes. Knewton looks even more comprehensive; I will explore it more soon. - jmorrison jmorrison Feb 9, 2015
  • - cbsteighner cbsteighner Feb 14, 2015 Classroom teachers can become more efficient with their time. They can monitor progress and provide immediate and personalized feedback. The learning also becomes more relevant for students, increasing their level of engagement. Those that need more practice on a skill receive further instruction, while others that need a challenge are able to move at an accelerated pace. Students still need to be taught how to interact with these types of platforms, how to "read" the screen, and engage with the material in a meaningful way.
  • - jon.k.price jon.k.price Feb 17, 2015As I mentioned in other input, I believe it is how this technology must be effectively integrated with other technologies to be most powerful. Adaptive learning technologies must be integrated with a robust cloud, LMS & infrastructure to be utilized. If the teacher has to wait for the data it wont be used. If the teacher can access the data from school, home or waiting in a parking lot on their mobile device - even better.

(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

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