Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Adaptive Learning

Anytime, anywhere learning is a big component of personalized learning and essential to our program at Greenwood. In order to create this flexible learning environment teachers use a variety of tools including a Learning Management System – Moodle (or as we call it ‘Groodle’) and Google Drive.

Another aspect of personalization at Greenwood sees teachers taking “time to understand each student’s unique personality, strengths and learning style, and design a customized, fully personalized learning experience to maximize that individual’s highest potential for engagement and success" (see article). To thoroughly understand the needs of students requires teachers to assess continuously and in a variety of ways. In a traditional classroom, assessment is often limited to one or two points during a unit and is unable to provide timely feedback or enable intervention. While continuous assessment is essential, it requires a significant time investment by teachers.

In order to help teachers get a quicker and easier understanding of their students’ needs, Greenwood is continuously looking for new technologies. Computers are exceptionally good at collecting and presenting data and have a lot of potential to offer additional support. While Groodle and Google Drive are excellent at fostering a flexible learning environment they are not currently able to help students make decisions based on their needs.

In order to help teachers get a quicker and easier understanding of their students’ needs, Greenwood is continuously looking for new technologies.

An emerging technology that holds promise for both teachers and students are adaptive learning systems. Adaptive learning uses technology to identify student strengths and weaknesses and then presents exercises tailored to those areas in need of improvement. One company receiving a lot of attention for their adaptive learning platform is Knewton. According to their website, Knewton has developed a system that is continuously adaptive providing the right instruction at the right time about the right thing. In addition to guiding students down an appropriate pathway, adaptive learning systems supply extensive data to teachers about each student allowing teachers to provide enrichment or additional support even quicker.

Although adaptive learning systems offer a lot of potential for educators, they are an extremely new technology and most are not yet available to individual schools. Additionally, many of the adaptive learning systems prohibit schools from utilizing their own resources which limits their usefulness.

While teachers will always have the greatest understanding of the needs of their students, technology will hopefully provide greater support in the near future. We will continue to monitor developments of adaptive learning systems and other technologies and implement those that help to further our goal of creating personalized programs.

Kyle Acres
Learning Technology Adviser

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