Adaptive teaching

By Vicky, posted
There seems to be much discussion about ‘adaptive teaching’ in education as we look towards 2024.  Av Srivastava in ‘Learning Light,’ explains the meaning as ‘ use technology to improve education and training by providing individualised programmes to students based on data that is gathered both before and throughout the learning process.’

What is it?

In basic terms, adaptive teaching and learning is about individualising or personalising learning as students work through their course material.
On first glance, this sounds the same as the more traditionally used term, personalised learning:  teaching and learning that personalises activities for learners according to their ability and current performance.  However, what makes adaptive teaching and learning different is the use of new and cutting-edge technology – specifically online learning platforms that have been developed to adapt content.

How does it work?

Online, there are several companies that have developed adaptive learning platforms.  These platforms use technology and a form of data mining to collate content for course creators and students.  These platforms are responsive to the learner’s ability and constantly modify content as they work.  Most UK secondary schools are now using adaptive platforms for homework – quizzes or tests that quickly learn the student’s ability and adapt content to match.  Instead of trainers and teachers constantly re-evaluating and producing new differentiated activities; the learning platform can help with this.

Some examples of adaptive learning platforms

Some of these will be familiar names and already being used in classrooms across the UK and internationally.  Some will be new and potentially very useful to explore:

Knewton – this platform focuses on higher education, personalising content in science, technology and maths.

Lectora – this platform helps you create courses, design and enhance with images, video and audio – VR is also available.

EdApp – this platform enables the trainer to import any course and customise it, selecting from a huge amount of templates that can be edited.  There are features such as spaced repetition to promote the embedding of learning.

360Learning – similar to EdApp, this adaptive platform enables the speedy creation of courses.

Kahoot! – This is a very popular app to use in education and training currently.  This tailors content for personalised quizzes.

There are many other online learning platforms available for adaptive teaching and learning and it is worth taking time to weigh up the pros and cons of each and the suitability for your particular organisation and context.

What are the benefits?

The benefits of adaptive learning are most certainly the same as for personalised learning.  The learner never feels left behind and there is always something for them to do next to help them progress, which might be different to the learner next to them.  For teachers and trainers, the use of such platforms is hugely time saving, compared to creating a new worksheet or additional resource for each learner.

What are the pitfalls?

As with any form of technology, the problem comes when it is used to replace the teacher or trainer.  If the course leader just leaves the learners to ‘get on with it’ and interact with the platform, they will have very little idea how much they know or how well they are doing.  
There is, of course, a cost implication here.  These learning platforms require subscription payments to continually make use of them.

Moving forward with adaptive teaching

As technology becomes more and more central to our lives, it makes sense that learners will use it to navigate their way through a course or sequence of learning.  Teachers will need to select the best and most useful elements of the chosen learning platform to make it work for them and their learners, rather than following it blindly.  If a teacher or trainer is using the technology to help them make assessment decisions and set targets for learners, it could be incredibly useful.  Resources are there at the level needed for the learner, rather than hours spent planning and creating.  Time saving and lesson enhancing – adaptive teaching certainly sounds like the way forward.

Photo by Twinkl on Unsplash.

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