Commentary series: What is adaptive learning?

By Sahra-Josephine Hjorth, CEO at CanopyLAB

 

The Commentary series is a series of reflections on learning shared by the CanopyLAB
co-founders
Christian Skræm Juul Jensen and Sahra-Josephine Hjorth.



When I studied at university, all my classes were linear and identical for everyone, meaning that every student had to follow the exact same course the exact same way. After finishing macroeconomics 101, you would continue to macroeconomics 201 and so forth.

Regardless of the topic and how much you already knew, everyone went through the same process. If you were already a macroeconomics expert, you got a good grade with a low effort. But no one really stopped to wonder about the enormous waste of time it was that theoretically 30% of us already mastered most of the topic.

Ironically, in these classes concepts such as opportunity cost and time is money is introduced, but no one questioned whether students should take the course while knowing the course content, because macroeconomics 101 was and remains a prerequisite for attending macroeconomics 201.

 

But what if we could structure courses or learning in a completely different way. What if we could deliver content that matches the level of the individual student instead. First detect their level and then curate or personalize it?

 

A prerequisite is defined as “a thing that is required as a prior condition for something else to happen or exist”.

But what if we could structure courses or learning in a completely different way. What if we could deliver content that matches the level of the individual student instead. First detect their level and then curate or personalize it?

 

That is possible today with adaptive learning.

Adaptive learning is also referred to as individualised, personalized and non-linear. Essentially tools such as quizzes are used to measure what the student already understands, what students can understand with help and what they do not understand. Based on this, the materials and exercises are curated for the student.

 

 

 

 

Most adaptive learning platforms build these flows based on adaptive quizzes. The theoretical foundation for most adaptive learning platforms is Lev Vygotsky’s, Soviet psychologist and social constructivist, Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD). The key to learning according to Vygotsky is to identify this Zone, or space where each individual learner – with the right amount of help – is able to solve more advanced and complex problems. Adaptive learning is one of the methods to reach this zone.

 

Universities and corporate learning professionals are slowly starting to adopt adaptive learning, and as adaptive learning software gradually gets more accurate at curating individual learning tracks […]

 

Universities and corporate learning professionals are slowly starting to adopt adaptive learning, and as adaptive learning software gradually gets more accurate at curating individual learning tracks, I predict a very bright future for adaptive learning, which is why we have spent the past 8 months changing our core architecture to enable adaptive learning. We are releasing three adaptive quizzes this year (2019).

Lastly, it is important to state that adaptivity is not just about the ability to first map and then differentiate the knowledge or materials each learner should work with. It is just as much about offering learners the opportunity to practice different competences. We will dive into this at a later stage.


At CanopyLAB we designed a simple and social platform for digital learning experiences.

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