November 10, 2013

10 Videos on Adaptive Learning Systems

Summary:  Adaptive Learning systems such as Knewton are designed to understand the learner’s styles and preferences then adjust the learning journey to keep the person challenged, curious, motivated, and capable of building knowledge from experiences.  Adaptive systems deliver what is needed and next and give us a more transparent look at the learning process. These systems are not holy grail solutions but certainly a positive step forward in next generation learner-focused platforms.


Adaptive is a new platform category of learning support systems that use sophisticated software based on machine-learning capabilities that help the  program learn about the user’s learning styles and preferences.  Content is adapted in real-time to ensure that learners are not bored or frustrated— and still have plenty of opportunities to fail along the way.  These systems compliment face-to-face and collaborative learning experiences.

Forget about Online vs Offline –
Focus on 
Software-Guided Learning Systems

Within schools, adaptive learning platforms could bring the end of the era of high stakes testing as real-time feedback and learning graphs show us how we are doing at all times and reveal progress over time – making summative testing less appealing.  Within work settings, adaptive learning systems could transform workflows and learning focused culture to create a happier and more engaged workforce.

We are in early days of development and these systems will take years to reach full potential. There will be vocal critics with valid concerns.  There will be tech evangelists who over-promise. There is no need to judge adaptive systems today.  For now we can just commit to learn more!  Here are 10 videos looking at the products, promise and challenges ahead.

1) Knewton

Arguably the (first) most authentic adaptive learning platform – though not the only one!  There are other Knewton videos towards the end of the list. I am a big fan 😉


2) LearnSmart (McGraw-Hill)

This LearnSmart  video highlights innovation of having the learner set their ‘confidence level’ as they do an assessment:


3) Kahn Academy

Kahn Academy’s main focus has been access but clearly they have adaptive design on their mind.  This learning flow dashboard is positive evolution of adaptive engagement design.  You have an ability to start by saying ‘I have not learned this yet.’!  Adaptive tests ‘If I answer all things correct questions will get harder’


4) Dan Clark

Yes, educators have seen technology fail in the past.  Adaptive platforms are not holy grails.  BUT there is something new in the world in terms of user expectations for non-linear personalized experiences driven by algorithms and new forms of data. Dan Clark makes a solid 3 minute case for an open mind to adaptive learning platforms.
Related to Ufi Charitable Trust MOOC




– a longer video but looks at the ‘day in life’ that have an impact on learning.


6) Dr. Nish Sonwalkar

Big Fan!  (TwitterWeb; Youtube channel has dozens of videos). Solidly academic and accessible.


7) A very solid panel conversation


8) Google Hangout – EdStartup Conversation with Jose Ferreira


9) More from Knewton CEO Jose Ferreira



10) More of a ‘spirit of new learning’ video -less ‘Adaptive’ focused!