Adaptive learning: definition and technology

Adaptive learning is a clear consequence of the evolution of education over the years and its increasingly intense relationship with...
4 January 2023

Adaptive learning is a clear consequence of the evolution of education over the years and its increasingly intense relationship with technology. What is known today as e-learning has given rise to various teaching methods that have improved how students gather information. 

Adaptive learning is one of these methods. This post will define it while analyzing today’s technologies to apply them to a training process. 

What is adaptive learning?

Broadly speaking, we can define adaptive learning as a personalized learning method that focuses exclusively on the students and their needs, adapting the contents and activities to them in order to obtain better results.

In any case, if you are looking for a more concrete adaptive learning definition, we can tell you that it is an educational method that, through the use of technological tools, adapt to each student’s learning needs.

What kind of tools? Well, for example, those that allow large-scale data analysis, Machine Learning, or artificial intelligence algorithms. All these tools make it possible to study and adapt the content to each student’s understanding, skills, and needs based on the levels of progress, response, errors, successes, etc. 

Adaptive learning

What is adaptive learning in education?

As you may have noticed, adaptive learning can also be very convenient to use in the classroom. The ease of use for teachers in these circumstances is a very clear point for its use in both basic and higher education levels.

Some of the tools already being used in classrooms are, for example, applications such as Moodle or other LMSs that we will discuss later.

Digital textbooks have been standardized among adaptive learners (a new name for students using this type of learning). These books allow adaptive learners to consume didactic content or perform exercises.

Adaptive learning technology

As we have already introduced in the previous section, there are two dominant types of technologies that allow adaptive learning to be implemented, although there is no specific adaptive learning software:

  1. Digital textbooks.
  2. LMS or online adaptive learning platforms for content hosting.

Let’s look at both options in more depth and why are useful for students and teachers.

Digital textbooks

Digital learning textbooks are a way of applying adaptive learning in early childhood education and beyond. They are usually highly interactive and combine digital and theoretical activities with more physical or ‘analog’ activities. 

Digital textbooks have the following advantages: 

  • They help students reinforce the knowledge taught by the teacher more effectively and makes it easier for every individual student to follow their own learning path. Much more if we combine it with other teaching strategies, such as microlearning.
  • They can motivate students to read more since new generations find it more difficult to read books in physical format.
  • They can be incorporated into group work to develop an awareness of teamwork.
  • They are more accessible to design and disseminate since being digital material does not require them to be printed to be distributed among students. 
  • They are cheaper to produce and less expensive for families.
  • They are in line with the experience of the content format that learners will (probably) handle in their future work.
  • They can be linked to interactive activities.
  • They are more sustainable. They can be upgraded to new editions, and implement subscription modes…. All without wasting paper!

There are several tools that, as a teacher, will allow you to create this type of interactive digital book. For example, Booksoop, Booktype, or Neobook, although there are many more. 

Adaptive learning definition and technology

LMS or online platforms for content hosting

In today’s education programs, adaptive learning is beneficial for disseminating constantly updated content. As we have already seen, each learner is a world of their own, and personalization requires constant modification of this content. 

Therefore, the flexibility provided by LMSs in this aspect is fascinating.

In case you don’t remember, an LMS (Learning Management System) is a web-based software that allows training courses to be carried out over the Internet, providing all the necessary course materials to deliver them: hosting content, communicating with students, managing users, administering courses, calls, evaluations and analyzing data, among many other functions.

The main advantages of using an LMS system for adaptive learning are the following: 

  • All training materials are uploaded on the same platform. An LMS is not only a content host itself. It can also be a virtual classroom or a chat to share knowledge. All of this is accessible from anywhere in the world where students have access to the Internet. 
  • They allow data analysis and process improvement. As we have already mentioned, adaptive learning experiences for students require data to be able to personalize educational content to the maximum. Thanks to LMS platforms, we can collect this information accurately and adapt the content as we go along.
  • The personalization that LMSs allow is very high. These platforms give you carte blanche when it comes to customizing educational content, navigation menus, meeting rooms or virtual classes, etc., thus bringing them closer to the student-based needs.
  • The management of a wide range of contents. LMS platforms offer various possibilities to interact with certain educational content, such as texts, podcasts, video classes, infographics, and many others, which makes educational training more motivating and effective for students.

Nowadays, any of the main LMS (Learning Management System) on the market, such as Moodle, Blackboard, Open LMS, or Classe365, are a great option to host content focused on adaptive learning process.

In any case, in order to be able to certify that your students perform these training with guarantees, we recommend you to use a proctoring system. In the case of SMOWL products, they have a complete and easy integration with the mentioned LMSs. You can ask us for a free demo and test the system without obligation.


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