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Personalizing
education with
adaptive learning
technology

Author: Shane Schick

The rise of adaptive learning technology is addressing a longstanding challenge for educators around the world: A one-size-fits-all approach to the student experience doesn't always yield the best outcomes.

Just think of the word "school." The images conjured probably include a classroom with rows of desks and a blackboard used to present the same standardized curriculum that every other teacher is following. This approach may be cost-effective and consistent in specific applications, but it doesn't sufficiently take into account the differences in how students develop new skills or the new tools they have available to them.

Adaptive learning technology combines artificial intelligence (AI) based on machine personalized learning algorithms with a variety of educational applications to tailor content to a particular student's needs.

Adaptive learning technology in education

Of course, teachers have always tried to treat students as individuals and to respect their particular needs. The challenge is that the level of detail involved and the kind of data analysis required are often beyond human capability.

AI can not only study the activity of each learner. By leveraging adaptive learning technology capabilities, it can also cross-reference that data with thousands or even millions of others to create predictive models that can help students achieve intended outcomes.

This means educators won't move ahead too quickly in subjects where some students have struggled to grasp the underlying concepts. Depending on how long a student takes to complete a particular assignment, for instance, adaptive learning technology can offer prompts or other interventions to optimize the experience around their personalized learning style. The system can also watch for indicators such as how quickly they answer a question or how many mistakes they make. This way, teachers can develop assignments or tests with a better sense of the progress each student has made and existing pain points.

How adaptive learning impacts the student experience

For students, adaptive learning technology provides an experience that feels inherently supportive. By continuing to modify the way they are being taught, students are empowered to tackle subjects that might otherwise be intimidating. As their performance improves, meanwhile, they can feel confident to tackle new challenges.

As adaptive learning technology in education becomes more common, school districts can strengthen their ability to address the needs of those with specific learning disabilities. With more schools needing to offer remote learning, meanwhile, the technology will help ensure students continue to follow the best possible pathway to the education they deserve.

Unlike differentiated learning, where a student's learning style is simply taken into account, or even personalized learning, where the student's interests guide the learning, adaptive learning technology is in a constant process of evolution. The idea is to use analytics to change the experience based on a student's strengths and weaknesses.

Adaptive learning network requirements

Realizing the promise of adaptive learning technology depends on teachers and students having access to a network that delivers high performance and reliability. The power of AI and sophisticated ed-tech applications won't have the intended effect if downtime becomes an ongoing issue, or if latency degrades the ability to make use of them.

Educational institutions need to assess the bandwidth-intensive needs they'll face as more of the student experience involves video and interactive tools for online assessments and connections to a school's IT systems.

Beyond speed and capacity requirements, adaptive learning technology in education will thrive in environments where network management doesn't rely on manual processes and automation can proactively detect performance issues before they happen.

Though many educational organizations have already moved some of their applications and infrastructure to the cloud, adaptive learning technology may provide a compelling use case for edge computing. Moving critical functions closer to where they are needed ensures teachers and students have access to the necessary content.

Making the right network investments early on may help educational institutions become one step ahead of potential challenges like congestion and have the agility to scale bandwidth as the needs of students grow.

This is a shift that may involve building and operating networks much differently than in the past. That's why it's necessary to find a partner with the tools and expertise to help not only accelerate the journey to adaptive learning technology today but to continue improving the student experience in the future.

Learn more about how Verizon's technology solutions can support distance learning.