Adaptive software not synonymous with personalized learning
- Though adaptive software is increasingly considered one of the premier ways to instill a form of personalized learning in a group classroom setting, there are inherent disadvantages to this type of approach, with eSchool News asserting that such programs may not be able to replace some of the qualitative aspects of a teacher’s performance and ingenuity.
- For decades, education experts have worked to solve the issue of scaling 1:1 instruction models, which offer better outcomes, to the larger class sizes often found in traditional public schools, and adaptive software could play a vital role in serving content for students in the case of a skills gap or upcoming assessment.
- However, the author asserts that "adaptive" does not mean personalized, as such software cannot encourage community and critical thinking development, and cannot model empathy for others or a passion for learning.
The author notes that districts may see adaptive software as a “panacea in a world of shrinking budgets,” as well as a way to keep enrollment steady when confronting a nationwide teacher shortage. Many educators might also view such technology warily, as a form of replacement instead of a supplemental tool. Administrators and school leaders have to be able to work with their faculty and staff in offering enough training and development to integrate technology that will elevate the classroom experience, as well as the performance and well-being of educators.
There is some indication that educators are hesitant about how tech can be incorporated into the classroom in their schools. Though 75% of teachers reported they use tech daily (with 50% of teachers reporting they are 1:1 in terms of devices) in a survey from last year, a more recent survey indicated that teachers gave very low marks to their schools on tech use. Only 13% reported that they would give their school an “A” rating when it comes to using available tech at schools to enhance students’ experience in the classroom.
Both sets of results indicate that as tech becomes more ubiquitous, the concern is less about accessibility and more about teachers' familiarity with the tools. The answer to the concern posed by eSchool News could be that both adaptive software and teacher instruction will be necessary to truly approach the personalized learning standard that is expected to be most successful, but administrators must ensure teachers have the opportunity for development in tech skills to implement such a plan.