March 1 2016

Learning Analytics & Adaptive Learning Shaping Future of Higher Ed

Written by Nimritta P.

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The New Media Consortium recently published a report on the technology trends and developments they foresee in the next five years, in higher education institutions. Adaptive Learning and Learning Analytics were identified as two important developments emerging in the educational technology market for higher education. Learning Analytics has become a well-established term in the eLearning landscape, as reporting and analytics tools have become high in demand. Adaptive learning is a newer development, nurtured by the data provided with learning analytics.

"Analytic data empowers educators with information that allows them to shape better learning pedagogies."

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Learning Analytics

Learning analytics is data pulled from reports and dashboards (through an LMS reporting and analytics tool), that helps develop learner profiling. Learning analytics first emerged with a focus in hindsight, preoccupied with describing results and providing a diagnosis. Over the years it has transformed to its current state, which is predicting what will happen in the future. This is evident through the current state of the market, where learning analytics tools help identify which students are struggling, and the specific areas they are struggling in. Learning Analytic data empowers educators with information that allows them to shape better learning pedagogies, empower active learning, identify the factors that affect student success, and build courses that meet students individual needs.

As an example, The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga is currently using learning analytics to identify which areas of learning and the curriculum students are having the most trouble with. What they found was that students were switching majors based on a difficult English class they were trying to avoid. This type of insight and information is extremely advantageous for institutions because it highlights which weak spots exist for the school, and for students, so they can take steps to remedy these in the most efficient way possible.

Adaptive Learning

Adaptive learning is a computer/technology based method of learning, that uses learning technologies that modify the presentation of learning materials to adapt to individual learner needs, often influenced by the data gathered from learning analytics. Modern teaching tools can now essentially learn the way people learn, and adapt learning material to each learner. As you go through a course, the learning technologies in place track which elements of the course you work well with, and which ones are more challenging, so that it can adjust the course path and course materials based on your performance. For example, if you’ve performed well from watching a learning video, the course will incorporate more video’s into your specific learning path to increase your overall performance.

Adaptive learning will assist higher ed institutes who are ramping up their efforts to pinpoint the students who are likely to drop out, and improve graduation rates. Influencers and thought leaders are coming together with initiatives that enable the meeting of private organizations and educational institutions and providers, to promote adaptive learning in the future of higher education - The Bill & Melinda Gate Foundation being one of the more notable ones.

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