How Adaptive Learning Can Improve Your Classroom

What is adaptive learning?

Adaptive learning refers to instruction that is based on a student’s progress. It is educational technology that adjusts the type and difficulty of instructional material to make it specific to a student’s performance level. For example, a reading program may give different tracks for students based on each individual’s lexile level. Students with lower lexiles would get easier text with simpler vocabulary and less complex wording. Students with higher lexile ratings get exposed to more advanced vocabulary and text. The benefit for teachers is that no matter what lexile level, students of the same class are reading the same text.

The concept is based on the fact that most students don’t learn at the same pace. With adaptive technologies, students of the same class can all learn the same content at a level that is appropriate for them. Adaptive learning is a possible remedy for students getting bored or overwhelmed.

How does adaptive learning help our classrooms?

With adaptive educational technology, programs can compile statistics on individual students’ learning styles and progress so teachers can take action. For instance, if a student achieves all his learning goals for the week, the teacher could see in the analysis that the student is due for positive feedback. On the flip side, if another student is struggling with fractions, specifically dividing fractions, then the teacher will know exactly where to intervene with fraction support. What’s more is that a teacher will know this without hovering over a student while she works.

In short, adaptive learning helps because it serves as a teacher’s assistant. Like Gradeable, adaptive learning technology assists teachers by compiling statistics of students that can provide a guide of the teacher to take action. For example, let’s say it takes 30 minutes to provide effective feedback for each students. Now even with that conservative time estimate per student, it would take a teacher 30 hours each week to provide the necessary feedback for just 10 students.

What adaptive tools are out there?


testive logoTestive is an online SAT prep service. Practice questions for each student are generated based on a student’s ability, whether the student has seen the question before, how many times the student has seen the question, how much time a student has, etc. Testive also makes use of metadata on their questions, so when a student answers a question, Testive can derive information on the type of learner that student is. The service also predicts real-time ability of the student and makes recommendations on what he/she should study.

The behavioral science suite takes the human aspect of studying into account to help students stay on tasks. Within the platform, students are encouraged to make commitments, set up a tracking system, and have the option of developing a system for accountability via a coach.


Books that Grow

books that growBooks that Grow is an adaptive reading program that allows students of the same class to read the same text at multiple levels of complexity. Regardless of reading ability, “each student can be challenged wherever they are and not be held back or lost in their class,” said co-founder and head of product, Jason Buhle.
Since students are all reading the same text, the teacher can teach one lesson for a shared, social, learning experience. “Through the experience of social learning, a lot of what [students] learn, they learn from each other and through interactions,” explained Buhle.



ireadyiReady is an adaptive learning platform for K12 that offers diagnostic, personalized online instruction built around the Common Core. The solution can pinpoint where a student is struggling so intervention can be done on a granular level. For instance, if a student struggles with geometry, iReady helps spot the exact concepts he/she hasn’t grasped, whether it’s algebra, exponents, multiplication, etc.

In addition, iReady gives teachers the ability to act on instantaneous feedback by compiling student progress in one place, making spotting trends and differentiation much more efficient. For students, they are able to see where they stand so they are able to take ownership of their learning. Did we mention iReady is gamified for added student engagement?


In conclusion

Adaptive learning puts vital information in a teacher’s’ hands without most of the tedious number crunching often associated with it. This allows teachers to make necessary interventions—both positive and negative—in a timely fashion. Adaptive learning generally gives students insight on where they stand and how they’re doing with learning objectives. Putting a student in the drivers’ seat of their own learning always ups the engagement factor.

For more adaptive learning platforms, check out EdSurge’s round-up.

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