Adaptive learning helps students finish faster


University of Memphis accelerates students through online courses, saving them time and money

Time and cost are two key barriers standing in the way of college completion, and that’s especially true for working adults going back to school. To eliminate these barriers and help registered nurses make faster progress toward earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree, the University of Memphis School of Health Studies is using adaptive learning technology and other practices to accelerate completion—reportedly saving participants more than $100,000 in collective tuition costs in a single year.

“Students shouldn’t get bogged down with paying to learn things they already know,” says Richard Irwin, dean of UofM Global, the university’s online program. “Adaptive learning helps students move through the content at a more rapid pace.”

How adaptive learning changes the game
Through a partnership with West Tennessee Healthcare, UofM Global is helping nurses earn a BSN degree through the university’s fully online “RN-to-BSN” program. The program uses not only adaptive learning but also credit-by-exam and experiential learning to eliminate the need for students to learn material they’ve already mastered.

This competency-based approach to instruction isn’t new, but what makes UofM Global’s approach stand out is the use of adaptive learning technology to help drive it.

UofM Global uses a flexible, content-agnostic adaptive learning platform called Realizeit to provide intelligent pathways to mastery for each individual learner in the RN-to-BSN program.

Instructional designers at the university have broken down each course into discrete skills and concepts, and they have directed the Realizeit platform how to take students through this content to ensure a proper progression of learning. The online system continuously assesses students, and once students demonstrate mastery of a concept, they are accelerated to the next phase of learning automatically—so they don’t have to waste time relearning it.

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