What is Adaptive Learning & Why Does it Matter?

What is Adaptive Learning & Why Does it Matter?

What is an Adaptive Learning?

Adaptive learning is a way of teaching that adjusts to the student's needs and knowledge. It uses a tool that gives quick feedback and helps the student learn. It makes the student pay attention to what they need to learn more. The more we help the student like this, the better they learn. Adaptive learning platforms are educational tools that use technology to personalise the learning experience for each student. 

How does Adaptive Learning work?

Adaptive Learning use the term artificial intelligence in a similar way to computer games. When an enemy in a computer game runs, hides, and attacks according to your action, it is following a set of rules. If you are too close, with a bigger gun, its rule might tell it to run away. If you are unarmed, its rules could tell it to close in. In adaptive learning, the rules are closely guarded secrets but still formulaic. If a learner keeps getting questions on adding fractions wrong, the rules will give them more practice and provide more time or support to answer them.

Are Adaptive Learning true artificial intelligence?

There is no definition of artificial intelligence. There are many ways we could judge it. If something appears to be responding to a learner's needs and it helps kids progress, then does it matter what the process is behind it?

At the moment, we hear a lot about ChatGPT and other Large Language Models as artificial intelligence, but they do not think, and they do not create. They predict, and they generate. The famous examples of modern AI are considered generative rather than creative.

Training LLMs is a very complex process involving training on a huge amount of data over a period of time on multiple hugely powerful dedicated computer chips. After the training, they can predict what should follow a question or a prompt and generate it, but they do not pull ideas out of nowhere. Nor are their predictions always correct; they'll confidently give wrong answers.

Adaptive learning follow a process defined by a human — often educational professionals or teachers. They use their experience to help the app replicate the support and guidance they would provide to kids.

These apps work within narrower guard rails than generative AI. They don't feel as personalised, but they won't go off the rails either. Their responses will always be a variation of what a human has created.

What is the educational basis behind Adaptive Learning?

A well-known educational theory describes a zone of proximal development. Kids have their existing level of attainment, which brings them in reach of the next step. They can make that step with guidance and support, which takes them further along in their learning journey.

As an example, we start kids learning to add single-digit numbers. When they have secured this ability, they can learn to add larger numbers. Adding numbers above ten has entered their zone of proximal development. They cannot quite do it alone, but with support and encouragement, it is possible. Once this becomes secure, new skills enter the zone of proximal development.

Adaptive learning provide support through hints, tutorials and guides. They encourage with instant feedback and rewards. They monitor and record kids' answers to see whether they are ready to move on to new topics.

Are Adaptive Learning as good as a teacher?

Adaptive learning (or any current AI) do not replace teachers, but they work well alongside them, whether the teacher is at school or a homeschooling parent. Adaptive learning have some key features that make them a great additional learning tool:

They are always available. Kids don't have to wait for their teacher to become free; they get help and support wherever they use the app, such as at home. They give immediate feedback. Finding out whether they have answered correctly or not is much more effective in promoting learning when it is immediate. Teachers often have to mark work overnight.

They provide a clear representation of progress. School books don't make it easy for kids to see how far they have come. Adaptive learning constantly monitor and measure each learner's performance which they can present in clear charts showing progress. This can be highly motivating and also keeps parents up to date.

Get your kids to learn with best educational apps
Try for free