News Feature | July 10, 2014

Businesses Find Opportunities In Adaptive Learning

By Cheryl Knight, contributing writer

Adaptive Learning

When computers are used as interactive teaching devices, the computers can adapt the curriculum to best fit the needs of the student, typically determined through their responses to specific questions and how they perform tasks presented to them. The drive behind adaptive or personalized learning is an attempt to turn the student into more than just a passive recipient of knowledge and more into a participant in the entire learning process.

The Opportunity For The Private Sector

According to Education Week, digital content currently holds a 42 percent share of the non-hardware EdTech market. Companies, such as Apollo, the American Public University System (APSUS), and Knewton, the most well-known of the companies making inroads into adaptive learning, seek to further develop adaptive learning software, making it more mainstream. This budding market presents an opportunity for many independent software vendors ISVs. For those specializing in software for such niche markets as adaptive learning, there is natural room for growth as programs are developed for a wide variety of different subjects and curricula.

An Inside Higher Ed article explains how businesses are beginning to take advantage of the opportunity. Peter Stokes, executive director of post-secondary innovation at the College of Professional Studies at Northeastern University, says personalized learning breaks down a professor’s role, and the use of computers for some of those tasks can be controversial among members of the academic community — it raises the question of whether it’s appropriate for computers to do what teachers traditionally did. He points out software companies usually have more freedom than educational facilities to experiment and develop programs.

Businesses also are better able to secure or budget funds to develop a model, as well as gather the information from students and teachers necessary to develop these programs to help determine where students and teachers need to focus their efforts.

What it boils down to, though, according to a Computerworld article is the ability to teach different people the same curriculum in different ways, all according to how they deal with the subject matter. Uses extend beyond K-12 and university classrooms to new-employee and other training programs. Elliott Masie, founder of The Masie Center, an international research center focused on learning in the workplace, says adaptive learning is an up and coming technology. He says although companies are not fully leveraging these types of learning systems, they should have it on their radar.

ISVs and VARs should have it on their radar as well, as demand grows for adaptive learning programs and the solutions to make them happen.