Adaptive Learning Technologies: How Students Will Learn in the Future

By Phill Powell

We live in a highly customized and personalized world. The evidence is all around us, from iPads custom-loaded with our favorite apps to personalized email.

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Adaptive learning technologies will eventually mark an end to the “one-size-fits-all” approach to curriculum development.

Customization is also coming to education, in a big way. The trend is called “adaptive learning technologies” and it’s one of the main subjects discussed within the 2015 Horizon Report issued by the New Media Consortium (NMC).

Learning to Adapt
Adaptive learning technologies are teaching technologies that automatically adjust their learning delivery speed and style according to a particular student or learning audience. According to the Horizon Report, adaptive learning technologies will be in widespread use in higher education around 2019.

As the NMC writes in the 2015 Horizon Report, “Contemporary educational tools are now capable of learning the way people learn; enabled by machine learning technologies, they can adapt to each student’s progress and adjust content in real time or provide customized exercises when they need it.”

Magic Algorithms
Adaptive learning technologies work by using software-based algorithms founded on an “if this, then that” system of cause and effect that shows how students are interacting with the course concepts. More sophisticated algorithms help educators see in even greater detail if students are grasping key concepts and mastering desired skills.

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Adaptive learning technologies help teachers track (and correct) the progress of individual students.

The Horizon Report uses the example of a student who spends an especially long time reading one particular passage. Through adaptive learning technologies, the software program monitoring his progress may try to assist him by serving up additional resources related to the concept.

Once this student-performance data is collected, it is fed to a dashboard that’s visible to the instructor, and sometimes even to students. This is an unprecedented development for teachers, instantly giving them the information that they can use in their interactions with each student.

No longer must teachers rely upon their teaching instincts or mere hunches as they wonder which students are actually learning and which need more remedial instruction.

Online Platforms Excel
According to the 2015 Horizon Report, some of the best uses of adaptive learning technologies occurs through online courses.

“Adaptive learning is best suited to take place in hybrid and online learning environments, where student activities are conducted virtually and can be monitored by software and tracking applications.”

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Adaptive learning technologies use extensive data mining to chart and compare student progress.

A Shared Commitment to Education
Digital Media Academy is a proud partner of the NMC and values the 2015 Horizon Report and its commitment to student education. At DMA tech camps, kids (ages 6-12) and teens (12-17) explore the hottest tech topics going. DMA students also receive one-on-one attention from experienced teachers who really know how to connect with young learners.

At Digital Media Academy summer camp locations, customized instruction isn’t a new trend. It’s how we’ve been teaching kids and teens for more than a decade.