Adaptive Learning: Emerging Technologies in Teaching and Training

In exploring topics for an EdTech assignment to examine an emerging or future technology and its potential applications in teaching and training, Group 2 selected a technology that has evolved from the dream of a 1950s psychologist into a leading contender for the most important ‘disruptor’ in education of the future. Adaptive Learning – an educational method that uses computers and hand held devices to orchestrate resources according to the unique needs of each learner – is explored, demonstrated, and analyzed in the following presentation by examining its origins, evolution, current landscape, and future trends.

A number of technologies were utilized to discuss, conceive, build and present the presentation, which served to deepen the learning experience of the participants.

To view the full project, visit our Adaptive Learning Team Project Website.

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Something’s not right. Stand by.

I am a big fan of mediated face-to-face communication platforms such as Google Hangout and Skype. They have transformed the nature and frequency of communication between families and friends who find themselves separated for long or short periods of time.

As educational technology tools, these platforms provide opportunities for online learners to get together for video chat and voice calls from computers, tablets and mobile devices via the Internet. Users can create conference calls, exchange files and images, send instant messages, and exchange files free of charge. This is very convenient – and in some cases necessary – for fully online learners. I remain unconvinced that an idea can be fully threshed out without live dialogue, and these platforms certainly make brainstorming easy to do.

The Wonder of Tech did a nice little comparison of video calling services using helpful comparators:

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In spite of all of the potential of communications platforms, sometimes the most important feature is technology’s Achilles heelGoogle HangoutReliability. The Internet still isn’t perfect. For students using the platforms (businesses may be better able to optimize the conditions) many variables can affect a successful hangout including individual’s technical proficiency, internet speed, and plain old dumb luck. In one week our modest group of 5 experienced a major audio feedback loop that forced us off one of the platforms and onto the other; assorted video and audio issues; and a session where one participant was lost in in the realm between reality and cyberspace and was unable to log on. That said, in 10 years we’ll no doubt be telling our grandchildren about the ‘dial up’ Skype we had to use back in the old days….

Building Community with Technology

As part of an EdTech assignment, we were required to illustrate how technology could be used to enhance a program. I selected a fictional intensive  program for leaders, that has been deemed by past participants as low tech and a bit dated. Through an analysis of similar programs and a review of various tools, I concluded that an optimal learning environment would be a ‘community of practice’ – one in which participants had access to experts and perceived themselves to be members of the community in which the experts practice.  Technology could support the cultivation of a community of practice by:

  • Building a community that connects learners prior to, during, and after the learning experience;
  • Creating an environment where it is safe to share and discuss real-life leadership challenges in a confidential manner; and
  • Enabling more active learning that is guided by facilitator expertise. Participant feedback indicates the need for a model that builds upon the wealth of skills and experience of participants and course leaders before, during, and after the intensive experience.

Tools

No one tool meets all three goals. In combination, however, three were found to largely address them. Twitter would be most useful for the intensive experience and to encourage information sharing post-program; WordPress would enable facilitators and participants to jointly build a community of learning that begins prior to the program and continues beyond; and a Learning Management System could provide a secure online solution to sharing confidential information.

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