Adaptive Learning: concept and questions

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In 1-to-1 classrooms, personalized activities are always rich environments for our students. In this environment, a new concept is in fashion: "Adaptive Learning".
What do we know about it?
Wikipedia defines Adaptive Learning as:

_ “An educational method which uses computers as interactive teaching devices. Computers adapt the presentation of educational material according to students' learning needs, as indicated by their responses to questions and tasks”._ (1)

Although the concept of artificial-intelligent tutoring started in the 1970s, assuming that computers would eventually achieve adaptability to human behaviour, the concept of Adaptive learning has grown, in the last few years, into a complete educational approach.
In Adaptive Learning, the basic premise is that the electronic educational tool or the digital teaching system will be able to adjust to the student's or the user's learning needs, to be able to offer a better and more effective learning experience. Using Jess Nepom’s concepts to describe the differences between Differentiated Learning, Personalized Learning and Adaptive Learning, we can identify three steps towards an individualized teaching and learning paradigm:

  • Differentiated Learning usually offers different learning environments for students that have different needs, characteristically organized in categories or pre-set groups.
  • Personalized Learning usually provides attention and pathways for every individual student, either with a rules-based method for different cases or a decision tree to apply different approaches according to specific circumstances. Students might start with a diagnostic test to identify its individual’s path and content.
  • Adaptive learning is a data-driven activity, usually computer-based, and it implies using 1-to-1 devices to continually take data from students' practice and use it to adapt their learning pathway, so as to “change and improve over time for each student”.
    In a way, Adaptive Learning is the educative customisation of learning techniques, after a process where Differentiated Learning simply identified different needs and offered different possibilities; Personalized Learning offered individual alternatives and Adaptive Learning facilitates the best solution for each student as the process develops. Instead of directing the student to a specific, pre-set context box, Adaptive learning organizes the content according to the student's evolving needs.
    This video, from one of the many companies that are now integrating Adaptive Learning into their teaching products, can illustrate a process where 1-to-1 environments are meaningful and especially useful (there are many products on the market, but this video is particularly explanatory…)

    Adaptive Learning opens many possibilities, but it has both pros and cons:
  • - Where is co-operative learning left, in this paradigm?
  • - How can social interaction be added to this technique?
  • - How can language acquisition and concept building work in isolated learning environments?
  • - Is Adaptive learning going to leave social building out of schooling?
  • - Is this approach a menace to the teacher's role or a useful tool?

What do you think?
Will the use of Adaptive learning increase in future education, or will it only provide reinforcement for practice exercices?


Pictures and videos


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