Adaptive learning can transform the online education system.

Adaptive learning is also known as Adaptive teaching wherein computer programs and algorithms are used to transform learning into interactive learning by supplying customized resources to fulfill the diverse needs of each learner. 

Swami Vivekanand has rightly said, “Each soul is potentially divine.” The Omnipresent has blessed each child with a different set of virtues, potential, and talents. Hence we can see that the pace at which a learner learns and grasps varies with every child. 

While the COVID-19 pandemic bought the whole world so much tension it bought the concept of online learning into reality. And somewhere we all can admit that we would always just be talking about online learning but bringing it into reality would have been a serious job especially in India. 

Also, we can never deny the very fact that while a classroom is the future of a nation it comprises children who all have different personalities and colors. While some students participate so actively in the class and freely ask all their doubts some are there who hide in the back of the class and because of their inquisitive nature they never participate in the class no matter how much the teacher asks them to do so. 

Online learning is like a blessing in disguise for such students. It is because it allows each student to learn at his own pace. He can ask his doubts as many times as he wants. He can solve an assignment as many times until it becomes correct. This is what we call adaptive learning. 

When we visit a doctor does he give the dance treatment for each ailment? No. Do we eat the same type of food every day? No. Do we wear the same clothes every day? Have we been going to the dance restaurant every time we went out for the last few months? No. 

When we can not accept such monotony in the food we eat or the clothes we wear, why are we forcing our children to learn in the same monotonous way? The way by which our parents read, then us and now our children. 

Just like the way the doctor treats every patient in a unique manner each student needs to be taught uniquely. It is where adaptive learning helps us. 

With adaptive learning, we can teach every student in a new way. Maybe ppts can be developed for some, movies for some, and games for the others. After all, the motive is to teach the child and make him a better person who helps in the holistic development of his family, society, and the nation as a whole and the means may vary. 

Imagine that you could give every learner their personalized course, made specifically for their strengths, weaknesses, goals, and engagement patterns. Imagine a course that adapted in real-time to their activity and adjusted moment by moment to their performance and interest level.

That’s adaptive learning.

The field—which uses artificial intelligence to actively tailor content to each individual’s needs—draws upon knowledge domains as diverse as machine learning, cognitive science, predictive analytics, and educational theory—to make this learner-centered vision of education a reality.

Some distinctions can help clarify the concept. “Adaptive learning,” while related to “Adaptive testing” has a completely different goal. Both “adaptive learning” and “Adaptive testing” adjust the content based on learner activity and performance. However, the aim of “adaptive testing” is to figure out each learner’s proficiency or skill level in as few questions as possible (hence the GRE or GMAT) while the goal of “adaptive learning” is to help each learner learn as efficiently and effectively as possible. When I say “learn,” I mean, gain demonstrable proficiency in some learning objective: experience an ah-ha moment.

Since the industrial revolution, learning has generally fit the lecture-based, one-size-fits-all model. In this model, a few learners in any cohort excel but many simply pass without having mastered important concepts. Many learners get Cs and perhaps a few get A’s while a few fails. This reality has simply been accepted for most of history (hence the typical grade distribution curve we are all familiar with). There are other characteristics of traditional learning which have also gone largely unexamined: the idea of grouping learners together based on their age rather than skill level; the lack of integration between formal education and informal (as well as experiential learning); an emphasis on summative rather than formative assessment (high-stakes, nerve-wracking final exams as opposed to quick-checks for understanding and opportunities for reflection). The list goes on and on.

By contrast, mastery-based instruction emphasizes mastery rather than seat-time, which generally leads to higher proficiency and engagement levels for all learners. For those who are unfamiliar with the concept, “mastery-based” learning has a few basic tenets: progression through a course of study should be based on proficiency rather than hours spent; learners cannot give up; learners must achieve proficiency to progress and complete the course; learners can spend however long they need to master the concepts. 

The concept of adaptive eBooks takes its origin from the fact that every reader/ student has a unique learning curve and that personalized content aligned to the reader’s learning curve can promote improved learning outcomes. The method was conceived a long ago but a recent spurt in technology has made it possible to capture learner data, based on which the algorithm delivers different topics to the learner to master it. The topics are delivered based on the learner’s knowledge consumption capability, she doesn’t have to go through topics of which she has prior understanding, thus saving time and effort. The system also keeps a track of the student’s progress and, based on her performance, reports are generated. It helps in understanding the areas where more work is needed, It also supports the instructor’s teaching goals.

With an expanding area of research and development, adaptive learning is attracting investments and grants, the technology will further evolve and the market will grow in coming years urging providers of learning like universities, colleges, professional associations, and organizations to adopt it sooner than later. Providing anywhere anytime access working on online platforms adaptive learning helps students progress in multiple ways, like, increased control – students can focus on what they need to know and skip the familiar topics. More engagement, fun, and a sense of accomplishment. Deep learning – better memorization, information retention for a longer time. Higher confidence and increased credits.

Adaptive learning merges learning styles and cognitive styles with the availability of (educational) technology, and data/learning analytics. Audio, visual, and kinesthetic or tactile learning types can benefit from this concept of learning because the concept becomes a practice of science. Though all three learning styles can be incorporated into a given curriculum, one or two styles can be emphasized and thus tailored to the specific learning needs of an individual. When you take a course that is designed specifically for that individual, taking into account their strengths and weaknesses or areas of opportunity, their learning style, attention, and retention attributes, you have taken a step into the realm of adaptive learning.

Despite concern about associated financial costs, involved adaptive learning demands no more attention to development and implementation than traditional forms of instruction. When systems have been designed and created, they can be customized to meet the needs of another learner at relatively little cost. Curriculum as a practice can be divided into distinct categories of development over time. Through learner type or style classifications, adaptations can be a rather smooth process. Interactive lessons need not belong, but rather effective in engaging the learner and making the learning objectives clear, concise, and attainable.

However, a word of caution is needed when it comes to the general application of adaptive learning. Adaptive learning may not be suitable or connect cleanly with all disciplines and subject areas. Moreover, the increased use of adaptive learning, especially depending on the type or level of class in question, raises some question marks about the role of instructors and educators in practice.

Not only is adaptive learning suited for bringing a variety of learning formats to the table, but it is also able to help instructors and researchers in the field of education understanding how learning is distinctive, differing from one learner to another, what subject areas are most desirable, and what the most fundamental problems associated with them are at a given time. 

 Adaptive learning is the future of eLearning. Many organizations are increasingly adopting adaptive learning to ensure that everyone learns the same skills at their own pace and according to their level of understanding.

Here are some benefits of adaptive learning in eLearning.

  • Saves time on learning

One of the major benefits of adaptive learning is that it saves time and effort taken by the learner to understand the concepts. As adaptive learning technology works in real-time, content is personalized according to their level of understanding, which makes learning simpler and faster. It also saves the time of employees who have to spend time off the floor for the training.

  • Identifies competency gaps

Across every industry, identifying and remediating competency gaps is crucial. However, in many cases, employees are not aware of the gaps in their understanding. According to Nykki Yeager, this unconscious incompetence affects the performance of about 40% of employees in every department. Adaptive learning uses a question-based approach to understand what the learners know and where the gaps are. Based on the inputs, it provides the most appropriate content to fill the gaps.

  • Tailor-made focused training

Adaptive learning plugs the holes in the current eLearning methodology by providing focused attention to every individual learner. It also offers personalized feedback to the learners, which enables them to understand the concepts better. Adaptive learning leverages upon algorithms and data that it receives from the learner in the form of tasks and responses, and adapts the content accordingly.

  • Adjusts to different learning styles

Unlike the one-size-fits-all courses that could intimidate some groups of learners, adaptive learning is suitable for all kinds of learners, irrespective of whether they possess a beginner, intermediate, or advanced knowledge of the concepts. A well-designed adaptive learning system learns how students learn and focus on delivering learning materials that suit their learning styles.

  • Updates when information changes

One of the crucial challenges when delivering online content is to provide the most up-to-date material. The adaptive learning system keeps track of what a learner has learned. When changes to the course are introduced, it can differentiate between the material a learner has already covered, and new areas to be mastered. This helps the learners to update themselves without going through the entire content again quickly.

Final Thoughts

Adaptive learning has undoubtedly encouraged learners to take an interest in their lessons by tailoring it according to their needs. However, implementing adaptive learning requires sizable investment and skilled resources who can strategize this new method of learning and integrate it without posing any challenges to the trainers and learners. Educational institutes and organizations should invest a considerable amount of time in choosing the right providers to launch a successful program.

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