How To Adapt To The Reality Of Adaptive Learning In Schools And Colleges

Adaptive Learning Is The Future Of Education
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Summary: With adaptive learning, instead of a broad-based approach, students in schools and colleges can have learning modules tailored around their specific needs, ways of learning, and any learning difficulties they have.

Adaptive Learning Is The Future Of Education

For schools and colleges to implement this style of learning across the curriculum and every course, it would require an educational paradigm shift that is unprecedented. In the history of education, this has never been tried, except perhaps outside a handful of specialist private schools and colleges.

Although adaptive learning is a departure from traditional pedagogical methods, educators expect this is going to become the new norm, in time, with courses adapted around the unique needs of every student.

Benefits Of Adaptive Learning

Because every student learns in different ways, even when these are classified into broad groups (e.g. visual, spatial, logical, social, etc.) students are going to have different learning outcomes. Not everyone is going to absorb the knowledge a teacher is trying to provide in the same way, so some students are going to understand it whereas others will struggle.

Although some of these outcomes are a result of individual characteristics, levels of intelligence, and any known learning difficulties (e.g. students with ADHD or dyslexia), educators are responsible for how a course is taught and therefore the outcomes they should expect. Keeping to a one-size-fits-all approach doesn't fit as well around the needs of modern learners.

Students in every age group are more immersed in digital ways of learning and thinking than ever before. When the concept of adaptive learning first appeared, it was when computers were starting to go mainstream. It was imagined that AI programs would tailor courses around the needs of individual students. One system that emerged at the time was known as Scholar, which laid the groundwork for future attempts at adaptive learning.

Combining adaptive learning with predictive analytics holds great potential for improving the way students learn and bringing forth positive learning outcomes. AI-based learning systems can collect and process huge amounts of data from students’ learning activities, such as the amount of time spent on completing each task, response latency and assessment results. The data can be used to detect patterns and build predictive models that help identify individual student needs and sharpen the content delivered to every learner.

Algorithms analyze data much faster than humans. So, students get the content, prompts and interventions—all of which change in real-time based on their individual needs and abilities. Although many educators can see the benefits of adaptive learning, the challenge is finding a way to implement it and to do so in a cost-effective way.

How To Apply Adaptive Learning In Practice

Thankfully, we are now at a point whereby educational software is advanced enough that it can be more easily tailored or customized around the needs of students, educators and content creators.

Instead of offering a single package of learning for one course, education content creators and providers can tailor learning packages around a variety of needs. A quick assessment, that any teacher or tutor can implement, should determine the learning styles present in any particular course pathway and class.

With that information at hand, teachers can use educational management software to implement a series of options for the various learning styles in each class. Students could be given a series of options, from traditional Instructor-Led teaching through to interactions with videos, quizzes, activities, learning sessions and software programs on a tablet, phone or computer.

Despite concerns about cost, with the right resources in place, creating a series of learning pathways doesn't cost more than preparing traditional materials and forms of instruction. Teachers don't need to worry about adaptive learning taking over core elements of a course either. Instead, the adaptive elements can be elective or core learning can be delivered first, followed by a period of a lesson where different learners approach studying in a variety of ways that depend on what they need and how they learn.

However, it should be noted that adaptive learning may not always connect easily with every course, discipline, and subject area. Educators should always make a judgment call, partly factoring in the needs and styles of the students they're expecting in a new intake, along with the demands of the course and anticipated learning outcomes.


Adaptive learning is the future of education. Sooner or later, students everywhere are going to benefit from being able to select courses and modules that are more closely tailored around how they prefer and need to learn. Schools and colleges that offer adaptive courses—with the software to deliver them—will gain the advantage over those that don’t.