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8 steps to get the most out of adaptive learning

The report goes into detail about why adaptive learning is popular, what institutions are in full adoption mode, the three foundational characteristics to define adaptive learning, and why it departs from other valuable forms of personalized instruction (self-pacing, differentiated instruction), which you can read about here.

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But perhaps most critical for institutions eager to take the next step in this form of learning technology is the report’s eight recommendations on how to make adaptive learning effective.

The report’s researchers spoke with 17 leaders across higher education overseeing adaptive learning at their institutions, some with fully implemented systems, and others in the early stages of adoption.

According to these 17 CIOs, IT professionals and admin, there are 8 high-level priorities and best practices for colleges and universities looking to adopt an adaptive learning model.


1. Establish your philosophy of personalization, know your mission, and lead out with values, not technology. Establishing a philosophy of personalization and leading with it at all phases of adoption creates a network of shared values and trust among decision-makers, as well as a common language and commitment to creativity and innovation, says the report.

2. Identify the problems adaptive learning proposes to solve. “Adaptive learning is not about doing something new or cutting-edge, but rather, is a way to use technology to help solve problems an institution faces when delivering personalized, or remedial, forms of instruction,” notes the report. For example, remediation at scale, especially for diverse numbers of students with different learning needs, is a distinct problem that adaptive learning aims to solve.

3. Count the costs not just of adopting adaptive learning, but of not adopting it. Adaptive learning, done right, can actually be much less expensive in the long run than many traditional forms of instruction, especially when the platform is integrated with existing technologies, when it is offered as a cloud-based solution, or when it obviates reliance on face-to-face lectures and textbooks. Adaptive learning also offers asynchronous means of instruction that eliminate the need for scheduled remedial courses, late-night tutoring labs, or instructional time devoted to remediation in otherwise standard courses.

(Next page: 4-8 for implementation)