Adaptive Technology – Are we on to something?

Online learning, blended learning, adaptive learning, individualized learning – these are all types of learning formats we have grown accustomed to due to the explosion of technology. We use to have to go to the classroom and have a teacher lecture to us, take notes, ask questions, and call it a day. Now, we are being exposed to many different types of learning formats. I am sure most of you have at one time or another either taken a class in a format different from the traditional face-to-face format or taught a class in one of the formats. One learning format that has caught my attention and that of many math instructors is adaptive learning.

What is Adaptive Learning? Adaptive learning is a form of personalized learning where technology is used to tailor the learning process to the needs of a student. According to Claire Stuve (2015), adaptive learning systems “adapt instruction for each student and create an individualized learning path, opening new content areas only after the student masters the current content area”. Many questions are asked when the topic of adaptive learning is raised: “Is adaptive learning the answer to individualized learning? How much teacher involvement is needed to help a student succeed? Is adaptive learning best fitted for a particular learning style?” I believe the most important question we all want to ask is, “Will it help our students succeed, and if so why?”

According to Peter K. Bol, the vice provost for advances in learning and Charles H. Carswell, who is the professor of East Asian Languages and Civilizations at Harvard University, adaptive learning lengthens student retention and speeds up how students acquire information. Isn’t that golden? We want our students to retain the material they learn right? Personally, when it comes to any educational technology, I believe that the why and how is important. We have to know why we are using it, how to use it, and how it is affecting our students.

Have you used adaptive technology either as a teacher or as a student? What was your experience?




“Always take one more step – you will be surprised at what you are capable of achieving”




Milano, B. (2017, February 2). Adaptive learning featured in HarvardX course. Retrieved from

Stuve, C. (2015). A Study of Student Perceptions on Adaptive Learning Systems in College Algebra and Their Effect on Learning Outcomes. (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from ProQuest. (10029031).



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