Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Knewton: Adaptive Learning

Edtech products are changing the way we teach. A disruptive technology coming down the pipeline is adaptive learning. The current state of adaptive learning is largely modeled after a decision tree matrix. A student answers a question or picks an activity, and based on this decision you go down one pathway; in this pathway the student can make another decision which takes them down a branch in this pathway.

Enter Knewton. This company is transforming the nature of adaptive learning. Instead of a pre-set decision tree model, they have developed a system where each learning path is personalized. In other words, Knewton technology enables each student to create their own decision tree pathway based on their unique choices, answers, and other points of data collection (search choices, demographics, time on task, etc.). So what does this mean for educators. One, teachers and students will have a tool that will provide instant feedback on student learning. Instead of waiting weeks for grading or months for standardized testing, students will have unique data to foster formative assessment. Two, teachers can enhance their role as facilitator in project-based learning experiences. For example, teachers can focus their efforts on scaffolding project activities and creating a culture of creativity and collaboration. Three, teachers will have a ton of data to assess how well their curriculum works. First you enter your digital content into Knewton's system. Then you track student progress as they use your content. And with instant feedback, teachers can optimize their curricula. Boom. These are but a few examples of the possible innovations that will be catalyzed by adaptive learning systems. And Knewton will be a company to watch in this evolution. Right now they are in every school in America because the major publishers use their technology. That equals lots of data (millions of students) to build their robust, personalized systems. And recently I heard that they are launching a free consumer product. Can't wait to check it out!