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A crash course in adaptive learning!

March 25, 2021

Since we wrote about adaptive learning and big data earlier in the week, we have had a few comments from our network telling us that they had never actually heard of adaptive learning before. Some had heard the name but didn't know how it worked or where it was used.

So we thought we would compile some videos that explore different aspects of the topic. There is an overlap here with Artificial Intelligence, which is another big topic in its own right, and we explore some aspects of that here.

So let's get started with adaptive learning, and see what all the fuss is about.

How adaptive learning works

NEO Academy Founder & CEO Alejandra Otero has been keenly interested in adaptive learning for a long time, and shares with us this video explanation of how it works. In this case, Alejandra has contextualised it within Google Education as an example, but it could be used within a number of bespoke and off-the-shelf applications.


Adaptive learning at "simple" level

Ok, so perhaps not "simple", but compared to the cross-institutional bespoke implementation options, software like dreambox is quite down to earth. We're using it here as a good example of how Alejandra's explanation above looks in practice.

Math is commonly cited as a "difficult" subject, whereas it's often the methodology of instruction that is the real issue. Adaptive learning is looking like a great solution to help personalize progress and support in an intelligent way.


From the teacher's perspective in higher education

Educause shares with us this interesting video, looking at adaptive learning from their point of view. Here we can see that it is not only about improving the learning experience, but also giving the institution insight into how they might better support learners in general. Retention is a huge issue in higher education, and it is hard to spot the signs of pre-attrition in learners in a high-enrollment class with hundreds of students.


Adaptive learning in online learning

Online learning is suddenly being taken extremely seriously by institutions all over the world. Some are struggling, by just trying to transplant traditional classroom instruction onto a Zoom meeting, and students will not put up with that for very long.

Those who are meeting the challenges of the post-Covid19 era with creative solutions might want to take a look at adaptive learning. Engagement online is not easy to maintain, and we know that letting go of the steering wheel and giving learners more control over what they do and when is the bare minimum standard we should aim for.

Adaptive learning in online learning is an elegant solution to the lack of personalization in lockstep online studies and gives learners a real boost by keeping content relevant and, critically, in their zone of proximal development. Here is how they do it at the University of Louisiana.


Adaptive learning at an insitutional level

As we explored in our earlier article this week, adaptive learning can get pretty huge. The bespoke level software means a retraining of teaching staff to really work together with the data. In short, the teaching itself has to become adaptive, which really is a positive thing.

However, just as institutions are increasingly finding off-the-shelf LMS platforms to be pretty competitive these days in terms of their flexibility and constant evolution, ready-made adaptive learning platforms like Alta are gaining a lot of traction. After an initial plugging in of content, it is ready to go, and has a well-thought-out UX. This kind of solution will not give you the deeply rich data that adaptive learning is capable of, but more and more institutions are trying this out as a first step into a fully adaptive, big data environment.https://youtu.be/xu7E2j9jxnA

We hope this was an enjoyable journey through the world of adaptive learning! At NEO Academy we are always looking for where the innovation is happening and where the conversation is heading, so if there is another area you would like us to explore, please do get in contact.

Our mission is to support and grow the success of institutions which are positively changing education, so let's keep the conversation going.

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