What Do Academics Really Think of Adaptive Learning?

What Do Academics Really Think of Adaptive Learning?

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In Spring 2016, faculty, support staff and administrators at Oregon State University met to candidly share their experiences with adaptive learning technology. One key theme emerged in their conversations: Institutions are looking for partners—not vendors—when it comes to implementing new solutions.

We sat down with participants at OSU’s Adaptive Learning Open House to hear why they decided to hold this workshop, how they’re defining the product category, their experience with adaptive learning technology and advice they’d give to vendors. In a two-part video series, we share some of the highlights from our conversations. These insights are valuable for faculty and administrators at other institutions and companies that are looking to partner with them.

First we talk about how language is one barrier to adopting adaptive technology. Too often edtech providers use technical jargon that doesn’t resonate with those who are implementing their products. How do real educators refer to the tools they’re seeing?

Next we discussed whether and how this adaptive learning technology might apply to a research university. Some of the responses that stood out to us:

  • We heard from a few administrators who stressed the importance of proper evaluation and review of the technology they bring on campus. It’s critical to OSU’s adaptive learning strategy to engage faculty in the decision-making process, giving them time to explore multiple products and compare them, and identify those that are the best fit for the school and the students they serve.
  • From a professor standpoint, adaptive-learning technology enables faculty to consistently test students’ knowledge about the material being covered in the course.
  • One of the biggest barriers to usage is the problem of vendors over-promising what the products can achieve and what research backs up product design.

I should note that Oregon State University has a history of being on the forefront of various technology-enabled pedagogical movements, and several of the workshop attendees have extensive experience using adaptive-learning tools. Beyond the opportunity for educators to hear from vendors, there was also a real benefit provided by letting educators hear from their peers.

I hope you enjoy the videos. I did.

Phil Hill (@PhilOnEdTech) is a partner at MindWires Consulting, co-publisher of the e-Literate blog, and co-producer of e-Literate TV.

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