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Adaptive Learning is Getting Smarter

  • 3 Min Read

The application of adaptive learning solutions is expanding, so what does this mean for teachers and institutions? A new study from Tyton Partners looks at how it's evolved.

In 2013, an Inside Higher Ed survey reported that 66% of college and university presidents believed adaptive learning had the potential to make a positive impact on higher education – this statistic is about three years old now, and it’s outdated.

This is because interest in adaptive learning has grown significantly in the last few years. Now, about 96% of higher education CIOs agree that adaptive learning technology has the potential to improve learning outcomes for students. Adaptive learning was even ranked as the number one strategic technology to impact education in both 2015 and 2016 by Gartner.

So what does this mean?

Adaptive learning is getting smarter. This means it can better help personalize the student learning experience, so that more teachers and institutions see value in it.

The face of adaptive learning today

This year, Tyton Partners released Learning to Adapt 2.0, a new report that summarizes the changes adaptive learning technologies have undergone since its first paper that was published in 2012.

Here are the five emergent themes facing adaptive learning today:

  1. While institutions have more experience with adaptive learning through product pilots, the path to broader implementation is uncertain.
  2. Applications of adaptive learning technology are expanding.
  3. The role of faculty is changing with the emergence of “adaptive teaching.”
  4. Adaptive learning is a relevant option for competency based education, but only in specific use cases.
  5. Adaptive products are building new feature sets in response to institutional demand.

The original report does a great job of elaborating on each theme, so be sure to download that to learn more.

What did we find to be the most interesting trend?

The way the applications of adaptive learning technology have changed over the past few years.

How is the application of adaptive learning solutions expanding?

The concept of adaptive learning has gone from a poorly defined model in postsecondary education to becoming an important pillar of teaching and learning technology. The expanding uses of adaptive learning solutions have helped bring about this change. A good way to demonstrate this shift is by looking at how adaptive learning use cases have moved from non-credit-bearing to credit-bearing environments.

Back in 2012, adaptive learning solutions were mostly used in non-credit-bearing environments. This included separate remedial courses or development education.

Today, the applications for adaptive learning have expanded to credit-bearing uses as well. This could include using it for homework tools, study aids, course projects, simulations, and even to support the full delivery of a course.

Why is this important?

Because in recent years, the application of adaptive learning solutions has been expanding to a broader and deeper usage within institutions, and the results are worth noting.

Adaptive learning solutions take hold in non-credit environments

If we take a look back to Tyton’s 2012 paper, it suggested that most early implementations of adaptive learning solutions were at course-level, but the true power lay in covering a broad range of courses.

Institutions have since expanded their use of adaptive beyond single courses, to larger offerings (such as pre-matriculation programs) that encompass a range of topics.

The University of Texas at Austin (UT) is a great example of an institution that is applying a deeper application of adaptive learning for its Doctor of Pharmacy program, by expanding its usage beyond just a single course.

UT realized that the students entering its program were coming from a variety of academic backgrounds and experiences. In order to level out the playing field for all the incoming students so that they were starting at a similar level of knowledge and skills, UT decided to pilot an adaptive learning program. Their adaptive pre-matriculation program assessed the students’ knowledge gaps in four key areas: chemistry, biology, information literacy and math.

What were the results?

Its adaptive program yielded statistically significant learning gains, which helped bring all new students to a level playing field in preparation for the Doctor of Pharmacy Program.

If you want to learn more about UT’s adaptive learning use case and the specific improvements they achieved, stay tuned for our next blog post. In the meantime, check out how adaptive learning has evolved, where it is headed, and lessons learned from early adopters in Tyton Partner’s Learning to Adapt 2.0: The Evolution of Adaptive Learning in Higher Education.

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