In my experience, differentiated instruction and personalized learning have become fundamental elements of the public school K-12 curriculum. Case in point, the “new” British Columbia curriculum, which is in the process of being implemented, emphasizes that personalized learning and differentiated instruction are some of its foundational principles along with the explicit acknowledgement that “…not all students learn successfully at the same rate, in the same learning environment, and in the same ways.” (BC Ministry of Education, 2017). However, there are impediments to the effective implementation of both differentiated and personalized learning, in particular the perceived additional time and effort to customize the content materials, learning experiences and assessment methods for classrooms of highly individualized students (Hollowell, n.d.). Adaptive learning appears to be the logical extension of the differentiated/ personalized learning trend, but with the added benefit of analytics and AI based technologies to reduce the workload of classroom teachers and better enable the individualized learning experience that many educators are trying to facilitate.
From a venture perspective, adaptive learning appears to have a ready market in both K-12 and post-secondary education, where there can be some variation in learning outcomes and students have years in order to complete their studies. However, I do wonder if this market is in truth somewhat limited. Despite institutional and government encouragement to adopt student-centered learning styles, many educators still adhere to more traditional, teacher-centered, didactic classroom methodologies (Pennington, 2009). As indicated previously, some of this is due to the perceived workload, but for others there remains questions about the efficacy of personalized learning. As well as there is the shear inertia of the traditional teaching styles in which many teachers and parents were educated and expect their own children to be educated in. With this in mind, adaptive learning may not appeal to those who have already dismissed other individualized learning methodologies.
That being said, for those educators who have already accepted and adopted various iterations of differentiated and personalized learning, adaptive learning ventures would be incredibly intriguing, potentially offering a decreased workload in the individual preparation, adaptation and assessment required by each student. Further, while this would imply that technology would be taking on a greater role in educating students, teachers would have more time for the often non-quantifiable elements of the teaching profession, such as focusing on the personal, social and emotional development of students as they grow and learn. As someone who believes strongly in personalized learning yet who struggles to effectively manage it, this is a potential venture that I will continue to follow and refer others to.
BC Ministry of Education. (2017). BC’s New Curriculum – Curriculum Overview. Retrieved from: https://curriculum.gov.bc.ca/curriculum/overview
Hollowell, Karen. (n.d.). What Are the Problems With Differentiated Instruction? Synonym. Retrieved from http://classroom.synonym.com/problems-differentiated-instruction-5066080.html
Pennington, Mark. (2009). 12 Reasons Why Teachers Resist Differentiated Instruction. Retrieved from: http://blog.penningtonpublishing.com/reading/10-reasons-why-teachers-resist-differentiated-instruction/