Student Centered Learning Through Adaptive Platforms

This article aims to inform education marketers and product providers about the possibilities with adaptive learning technologies.

According to ISTE, student-centered learning allows students to become active participants in their own learning processes. What students learn, how they learn it, and how their learning is assessed are all driven by each individual student’s needs and abilities. At the system level, this requires implementing curriculum planning practices, pedagogy, and assessment methods that support a student-centric approach. This includes such innovations as “adaptive learning” technology.

Adaptive learning technology has been growing in popularity in school districts across the nation, and is building a research base of success stories and examples to validate its approach. However, according to this EdSurge article, “There’s very little clarity around what this technology does, doesn’t do, and how it actually works. Part of the problem stems from a semantic black box, filled with terms like ‘algorithms’ and ‘predictive analytics’ that offer only a vague explanation of how adaptive learning tools work.”

So, What is Adaptive Learning?

Adaptive learning methodologies are available in variety software and web applications. They consist of interactive lessons, quiz-like simulations, and activities, where a user’s progress is tracked, and follow up questions are chosen based on their previous response. Knowledge is built in a holistic way, and it caters to an individual’s needs. Adaptive programs do not ask questions that are above a students skill level.

These kinds of programs or applications are available on tablets, notebooks, and desktop computers, and allow for students to guide their own learning during established class times. This kind of option for students helps free up time for teachers to provide more individual attention to learners who require more assistance, which is an ongoing issue in classroom management.

Some Examples in the Market

There are a variety of different platforms available for K-12, with a wide range of prices, accessibility features, and subject matter focus areas. Some of the most well-known examples include:

McGraw Hill ALEKS

Assessment and Learning in Knowledge Spaces is a Web-based, artificially intelligent assessment and learning system. ALEKS uses adaptive questioning to quickly and accurately determine exactly what a student knows and doesn’t know in a course.

Dreambox

This game-like instructional learning platform for K-8 math learning helps support informed decision making.

i-Ready

This learning platform has adaptive activities to teach a variety of topics including Reading, Language Arts, Math, and Special Education.

How Is it Used in Blended Instruction?

Blended instruction is another hot topic among educators, as it is the most common approach for technology integration. It refers to digital media and software delivered through a number of media devices and hardware, combined with traditional classroom teaching methods. Most adaptive learning programs require a school or district wide account to facilitate the proper implementation, but when used in unison with a blended classroom approach, can help fill student skill gaps. What is important for teachers to remember when utilizing these programs, is to not get too entrenched in the idea that the data collected is the key component, but that quality teaching, in a combination with the use of these programs, is a cohesive effort. Instead of sending their class to a computer lab without them, they should join them and facilitate their program, and find the right balance to ensure the students are getting the full experience that the teacher wishes for.

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