Not all people learn the same way. This is an obvious fact and obstacle that educators have been dealing with since the beginning of classroom learning. We can’t expect children to sit in a classroom, under the same instruction and all progress at the same speed. For hundreds of years the typical education system has labeled some students as being smarter and more capable than the others and some students as being less smart and incapable of learning.
Teachers and personal tutors have been trying to implement ways of broadening instruction to cater to each individual’s learning styles and needs. However, the way our schools are set up does not make this type of teaching and learning practical or possible. The exciting news is that in today’s modern world that is full of ever evolving technology there is now a way to personalize learning for each and every student in the classroom. Here’s where adaptive learning comes in.
What is adaptive learning?
Adaptive learning is a form of online learning that uses technology to customize subject material for each individual student. A company called Knewton has developed a way for an electronic device to actually keep track of how the student is learning based on how long it takes them to answer questions, how quickly they are reading sections of text and even takes into consideration what time of day the student performs better in certain subjects. Based on the information about that particular student, the computer or handheld device will then offer recommendations of what the student should work on next in order to strengthen their understanding of the subject.
How will adaptive learning affect the way we learn?
Adaptive learning allows students to learn at their own pace, with a customized curriculum that caters to their specific strengths and weaknesses. If the computer can tell that the student is struggling with a certain concept and getting frustrated, then the program will adapt so the student can review other concepts that will refresh their memory, and build their confidence, before moving on to the more difficult concept. Adaptive learning programs, like the one developed by Knewton have developed a way to work with certain companies to turn textbook curriculum into interactive and adaptive learning tools. Knewton plans to expand this system even more to eventually encompass even more educational information available on the Internet.
How will adaptive learning change education?
This type of learning can not replace the need for classrooms and teachers, but it will help to facilitate learning and be a complement to classroom learning. Adaptive learning focuses on the increase of knowledge and mastering subject material. Classroom settings and working with teachers and tutors doesn’t merely supply knowledge, these are important factors that help students develop social skills and ways to handle life situations which are arguably just as important as learning the facts.
Knewton has been developing a program that eventually can be used by people all over the world as a tool to provide adaptive learning to anyone with access to the internet. Based on an article from The Daily Beast, the owner of Knewton predicts that within the next ten years schools will no longer be using paper textbooks and homework assignments, but will do everything online. Knewton has already done a case study with Arizona State University students and the results are remarkable. Drop out rates have decreased, more students are passing their classes, and the teachers are more able to provide personalized instruction to their students.
Adaptive learning will not only change the way students are learning, but it will also change the way educators teach. Rather than presenting lecture style lessons to the entire class, teachers will be free to help individual students as the others work on their computers or tablets. It will be interesting to see how schools will receive these new advancements in technology and how they will be incorporated into classrooms around the world.
Thank you to DeSales University for their amazing photo!