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Is Adaptive Learning the Future of Education?

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In days gone by, informal learning involved close interaction between teachers and students, with more scope for one-on-one attention. However, these intimate classrooms were not available to all and so gave way to more formal learning in large schools and universities to impart education to the masses. Though this may have promised ‘education for all,’ it stripped learning of certain advantages and often failed to deliver the best education for most.

Advancements in technology are here to solve this predicament. Digital education systems and online learning possibilities have been striving for years to impart the best possible level of education. Furthermore, innovations like Artificial Intelligence (AI) and technology-driven research have produced the best forms of learning, such as adaptive learning.

adaptive learning

What is Adaptive Learning?

In adaptive learning, the course materials and learning plans can be customised according to the abilities and requirements of each student. It is based on the understanding that each student is unique, from their cognition level to their educational and socioeconomic background.

Unlike traditional education, where one single approach is extended to all students, adaptive learning gives each student individual attention and creates a study plan based on their interests and requirements. As it is a highly supportive platform, students typically find it more engaging and beneficial than traditional learning. Continuous feedback is given to each student, and the study modules are designed for efficient lessons and productive use of time and resources. 

It is an efficient way of learning that benefits teachers and students alike. With the recent boom in online education, adaptive learning has started to get the attention it deserves.


How Does Adaptive Learning Work?

Adaptive learning typically takes place over a web-based platform. These platforms run on dedicated software which use advanced technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), Big Data analysis, and Predictive Analytics which allow for continuous student evaluation with minimal human intervention. It provides deep insights into student capacity and their interest in a particular subject and uses this information to determine the course structure, topics, and pace.

Adaptive learning software acts as a bridge between the teacher and the student, containing all the required course materials. This smart software can evaluate each student, suggest or select different sections from the course material, and provide timely feedback to the instructor. This feedback allows instructors to appropriately guide their students, arrange lessons, and set goals.


Benefits of Adaptive Learning

Here are the key benefits students may gain from using adaptive learning platforms:

  • Students feel more comfortable and less stressed, as they can choose their own pace of study.
  • Timely feedback on their performance makes students feel more motivated to achieve the goals set for them.
  • Study material and pace are customised for each student, making them more involved in learning, bringing better results compared to traditional learning.
  • Students who were previously considered underachievers will meet their goals through adaptive learning’s supportive methodology.
  • Immediate feedback from teachers to students and vice versa allows both parties to quickly adapt, saving valuable time and resources.
  • As students can study at a comfortable pace, they are well-prepared before moving to new material, making the entire learning process more efficient and productive.

Challenges in Adopting Adaptive Learning

Though adaptive learning is rapidly gaining popularity, there are still a few questions to answer and hurdles to overcome to make adaptive learning the norm in education.

Digital Infrastructure and Costs

Implementing adaptive learning on a large scale, for example in universities, needs a certain level of digital infrastructure. Students also need the necessary equipment and software for this type of learning to be implemented comprehensively. Therefore, this requires a dedicated plan and a certain amount of investment for both institutions and students.

Orienting Teachers

Adaptive learning requires a different approach by instructors from what they may have been accustomed to in traditional learning models. In the new framework, teachers are not typically as focused on direct instruction. Instead, they must also handle feedback and analyse the data the system gives them on their students. Therefore, instructors need to be trained in these new methods and approaches.

Engaging Students

Equally, students must also be inducted into the new system. Although these platforms are very user-friendly, students will need some training in how to use the system. Student engagement can be improved through gamification and incentives.

The Future of Education?

With its many benefits, adaptive learning is undoubtedly here to stay and determined to be the future of education.  However, it is not without its challenges. While technologies like Artificial Intelligence and predictive analytics that support adaptive learning can easily evaluate students in objective disciplines such as mathematics, this can be more of a challenge in subjective disciplines like arts and literature.

However, adaptive learning is evolving rapidly, and it is only a matter of time before advanced solutions emerge to address these challenges. Adaptive learning is not only valuable for schools and universities, but also for companies and organisations that can use this innovation to train their staff effectively.