Though the headline is a bit misleading as most digital learning is still occurring on desktops and laptops, this article is focused on providing a high-level perspective on adaptive learning with interviews with a number of vendors in the space. The Gates Foundation, in particular, has been quite bullish about the potential for generating significant learning gains through thoughtful deployment of data-driven technologies like adaptive learning. From the article:
“We are still in the early stages but the tech is finally coming together,” says Jim Ptaszynski, a senior fellow at the Gates Foundation in Seattle, who studies the role of technology in education. “Adaptive learning provides an active learning scenario with lots of feedback and early research is starting to show a lot of promise.”
When we consider the time scales necessary to drive significant changes in education, the statement above is absolutely true. To borrow a baseball analogy with spring training around the corner, it's still the first few innings and it's a long game. However, the author does provide some definition for his perspectives in the piece:
Broadly speaking it means using computers as interactive teaching devices. A consensus is beginning to emerge that it is more than just an explanatory video with a series of multiple choice questions.
Using data to tailor a teaching and learning experience, while reinforcing the role of the instructor and supporting a student's desire to drive their own learning experience - on screens or otherwise - could be additional points of elaboration but it's true dropping a few formative assessment questions behind a video or short reading isn't nearly the right approach. That noted, digital learning is certainly on the upswing with adaptive technology helping drive better, and more efficient, performance if designed and deployed properly.
The expansion of adaptive learning is set to accelerate. Professional services provider Deloitte’s 2016 Digital Education Survey found that three quarters of teachers questioned in US schools expect the printed textbook to completely disappear from the classroom within a decade. Ninety per cent of children in the survey said they use digital learning materials at home and two-thirds had started by the age of five.
A decade happens fast in education, I recall being on many a conference stage in 2005 and 2006 where fellow panelists were predicting similar deterioration / disappearance of textbooks - unfortunately they were all wrong. That said, if you've spent time in classrooms in the last few years the changes are immediately evident - more students taking notes during lectures on devices instead of pads and paper, using mobile devices to participate in real-time polls during class, students messaging friends while studying instead of flipping open a book or ebook to get further clarification on a topic or term. It is happening, no doubt, but the printed word isn't disappearing any time soon. Learning tailored for the iPad generation