Schools around the country remain closed while the country continues the fight against coronavirus. Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, schooling at home has become the norm. But will we learn anything from this grand experiment? Hopefully, schooling at home will get more people thinking about the potential of adaptive learning in multiple environments.
Adaptive learning is an old educational concept that is just now being rediscovered. Fulcrum Labs is an example of one company whose learning platform is based exclusively on adaptive learning. The adaptive learning model that powers their business is designed for workplace training and higher education. It is adaptable to high school as well.
Adaptive Learning Basics
Adaptive learning is a learning paradigm that completely dismisses the cookie-cutter educational methods we are all used to. Under the cookie-cutter system, every student is exposed to the exact same information in the exact same way. Kids are taught via static lessons in a classroom setting in which each student is expected to learn at the same pace. Individual performance is lost in the performance of the whole.
Performance is best achieved through personalization. Personalized adaptive learning allows students to approach information at their own pace and on their own pathways. Students learn through reading, watching videos, and practising skills. They are assessed for mastery as well. The end result is that learning becomes a process of understanding and retaining knowledge rather than memorization and regurgitation.
An Educational Norm
What is most interesting about adaptive learning is that it is not new. It has been the educational norm during different times throughout world history. Today, we are taking fundamental principles of adaptive learning and enhancing them with technology tools. We are giving more students better opportunities to learn in a way that is more personal and productive.
This brings us back to the topic of parents now schooling at home as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of those families will undoubtedly follow the rote program provided by their school districts without question. Others will quickly discover that the program doesn’t work. They will discover that there are better ways to learn.
Those other families will discover that they can adapt the learning model to fit their lifestyles and learning preferences. Mom and dad might start thinking about learning in other environments too – like the workplace. They will come to understand that the same principles of adaptation and personalization that made their schooling at home success can be applied to workplace training as well.
School Districts and Higher Education
In the meantime, it is a safe bet that school districts and higher education institutions will be forced to rethink how they teach. So much time has been lost to COVID-19, yet students have to progress to the next level if we want to avoid a complete collapse of the education system. So where does that leave things?
This time in history represents an opportunity to think outside the box. It is an opportunity to look at how we educate – in high school, university, and even the workplace – and ask ourselves if we can make what we do better. The need to school at home, for now, is also an opportunity to explore the idea of making education more personalized to each student.
Perhaps all of this will lead to the education establishment fully embracing adaptive learning. It would certainly be difficult to get rid of the cookie-cutter system by the start of the next school year but imagine the potential if that happened. Adaptive learning could truly revolutionize education.