The Role of Adaptive Learning in Education

The Role of Adaptive Learning in Education

In recent years, adaptive learning technology has grown from an in-explicit concept in higher education to an essential category of education technology.

The development of innovative adaptive technology features to meet the needs of institutions is the most important transformation since 2012. In an effort to capture the ways in which this market has evolved over time, and to determine the influence of these changes on the future adoption of adaptive learning, 5 themes have been pointed out which indicate this evolution. They are as follows.

  • In response to institutional demand, the adaptive products are developing new feature sets.
  • Adaptive learning is a pertinent option for education based on competency, but only in few particular use cases.
  • With the emergence of adaptive teaching, the faculty role is transforming.
  • The adaptive learning applications are expanding.
  • While institutions have much more experience with learning via product pilots, the pathway to wide range implementation is uncertain.

Slow Adoption

While adaptive learning awareness among universities and colleges is higher than ever and numerous institutions have piloted this technology, the large scale implementations are still very few. The researchers have pointed out that ease-of-use and integration remain barriers to adoption:”The institutions face major difficulties integrating the solutions of adaptive learning into the existing tools, especially LMS (learning management systems), and into student and faculty workflows. In spite of the efforts to address issues like standardization and interoperability of the flow of data between faculty and students, and still, systems are forced to keep multiple user profiles and sign-ons, which results in a less-than-seamless UX(user experience).

Faculty skepticism is another barrier. Faculty still oppose the ways in which adaptive learning technology changes the practice and process of teaching. Other concerns arise from the complexity of utilizing these products and the workload that is added.

New Features

The overcoming barriers to adoption of adaptive learning places as much burden on the leaders of institutions to engage faculty as it does on the suppliers of technology to grow their products. The vendor responsiveness and institutional demands are growing in tandem with one another. This is leading to a host of product extensions and enhancements that promise to improve adoption. The vendors of adaptive learning have strengthened product features in 3 major areas: content, customization and collaboration.

For example, most of the suppliers provide features for direct communication between students and faculty as well as student-to-student and faculty-to-faculty interaction. These features promise to enhance the ability of faculty to stage interventions with students who are struggling, and to improve collaboration and social learning among peers, which helps in promoting the feeling of a conventional class experience in the adaptive environment.

The utilization of open education resources within the adoptive platforms is evolving and this in turn is providing a way to customize the learning content at lower cost. Many suppliers are now providing content that can be edited, remixed, and freely distributed. Today, a broad range of products are being proposed, starting from immediately available, ready-made courses with fluctuating degrees of possible customization to products that offer a platform on which subject-matter experts, faculty, or an instructional design team can generate a custom adaptive learning experience utilizing a variety of resources.

Lessons to Learn

Below here are the 4 recommendations for educational institutions in the process of adopting adaptive learning technology.

Pilot with full implementation in mind

Avoid the tendency to keep adaptive learning technology in the innovation box or to underrate its potential contribution and capabilities. Instead, showcase adaptive learning early and often, and work to make sure that it’s capabilities and breadth are understood. Provide users with various opportunities to test-drive brand new products and to weigh in on which products were most effective and engaging. Optimizing the user experience and dealing with integration issues early on is also extremely important.

Engage faculty throughout the implementation

While building trust and transparency among faculty is critical, it is equally critical to institute a shared understanding of the adaptive products’ impact on the teaching process. Involve faculty in the process of selecting a product, train them on new products and present opportunities for faculty to share best practices and experiences.

Ensure a coherent decision-making process

While selecting a product, take context into account and make sure that the process reflects the expectations and needs of all stakeholders involved. Ensure that everything, starting from vision to selection of product reflects the needs, conditions, and character of the institution.

Know the product landscape

When embarking on the process of selecting a product, ensure you understand how adaptive learning works, how products differ from one another and what product offerings are available. Take note of special functions and features across different products, and make sure that these align with the expectations and needs of stakeholders.

Qualities of Adaptive Teaching

Adaptive learning is transforming not only the way students learn, but also the way faculty teach. Today, we witness the advent if a faculty focused practice known as ‘adaptive teaching,’ in which faculty are empowered via the utilization of technology to pilot individual learner pathways and to direct as well as re-direct learning outcomes. The 4 qualities that designate adaptive instruction are as follows.

Active so far as it utilizes technology to append focus to the faculty role as instructors who shape the outcomes and journey of learning.

Relational, as faculty are enabled to work as subject-matter experts, guides and coaches alongside students who are advancing through an adaptive assessment or curriculum.

Involved through the utilization of digital functions and features that allow faculty to direct learners via a program, course or module and to stage interventions and interactions as required, and

Insightful at scale via the utilization of learning maps, dashboards and analytics that present faculty with greater transparency into the student progress and the utilization of flags or indicators to suggest potential interventions to enhance the likelihood of student success.    

About the Author
Author: Ravindra SavaramWebsite:
Savaram Ravindra was born and raised in Hyderabad, popularly known as the ‘City of Pearls’. He is presently working as a Content Contributor at His previous professional experience includes Programmer Analyst at Cognizant Technology Solutions. He holds a Masters degree in Nanotechnology from VIT University. He can be contacted at Connect with him also on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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