Today's technology is ushering in a new era of education.
Here's a look at how trends such as adaptive learning and predictive analytics are helping higher educational institutions provide more effective, personalised learning while gaining a competitive edge.
The benefits of adaptive learning
The idea that different students learn differently is the foundation of adaptive learning. Adaptive learning platforms are computer-based learning tools that can dynamically modify the presentation of information based on the needs of the student. While teachers have been performing this function for decades, technology has the ability to greatly simplify and streamline the process.
For example, an adaptive learning tool can track a student’s progress through a course, providing lessons and quizzes that reinforce weak points until the student has mastered the material. Instead of having to wait days or weeks for test results, these interactive systems provide instant feedback to students and instructors, allowing them to monitor progress in real-time and address any issues as they arise.
Student feedback at Colorado Technical University has shown that adaptive learning technology can help learners achieve comparable results to traditional classroom learning, but in less time and with better test scores and retention. No wonder adaptive learning ranks first on Gartner's list of the top strategic technologies impacting education in 2015.
Predictive analytics can lower dropout rates
Through the use of predictive analytics, adaptive learning technologies are able to anticipate student failure rates and address learning issues before students drop out. Backing this up are figures from the University of New South Wales, which showed a reduction in failure rate from 31 per cent to 7 per cent after using Smart Sparrow adaptive tutorials to teach key threshold concepts in an engineering course at the university.
While adaptive technology is not meant to replace teachers in the classroom, it “can break the ‘iron triangle’ of cost, access and quality by substituting technology for labour and conversely allowing best in class pedagogy and analytics to improve the quality of education,” according to former senior analyst at Eduventures, Brian Fleming, now principal at advisory firm Tyton.
The widespread adoption of technology in education
With post-secondary institutions in Australia set to spend $1.7 billion on technology in 2016 alone, many schools have been jumping on the adaptive learning bandwagon, including the University of Queensland. Utilising eLearning systems such as the UQ Wordcloud, the university is able to enhance in-class interactions, while its online systems enable flexible learning and give instructors the ability to design more effective courses.
As more educational institutions come to recognise that a one-size-fits-all approach doesn't suit everyone, the benefit of offering highly personalised and contextually driven learning is clear. Through adaptive learning, higher education institutions can differentiate their offerings while levelling the playing field for learners everywhere.
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