Posted by: crudbasher | May 11, 2011

Feeding the Teaching Machines


    I was sent this article by a friend. It discusses a new program that is using an adaptive learning interface to help students learn math. I think this is a similar system to what the Khan Academy is developing. In this system, students will be presented with math problems in a variety of ways. They mention different ways to present the same thing, either with animations, or videos or text.

    Different presentations is a really good idea and I think will be helpful but it has sparked a realization.

    The software to present this information is reliant on a large supply of learning content. I think this is a major issue. Not every teacher has the skills to create web based instructional products (nor do they want to). Not only do we need web based instruction but we need it in multiple forms.

    What will be required is a revolution in content creation. It will also require sharing of education resources on a scale never before attempted. Traditionally this has been a big point of resistance. What libraries of educational resources that are out there are not widely used. This will have to change. It’s possible that a new generation of teachers (who are our students now) will be the ones to start sharing more. After all, they seem to share everything they have now anyway!



  • Learning adaptive software

    tags: education technology adaptive software learning2.0

    • At Arizona State University, a high-tech teaching tool with roots in the pre-Internet 1950s has created a bit of a buzz.

    • All are anticipating this summer’s debut of Knewton, a new computerized-learning program that features immediate feedback and adaptation to students’ learning curves.

    • Based on principles of learning he developed working with pigeons, Skinner came up with a boxlike mechanical device that fed questions to students, rewarding correct answers with fresh academic material; wrong answers simply got them a repeat of the old question.

    • Fifty years later, that basic idea has evolved into a hot concept in education: adaptive learning. Programs like Knewton can pace an entire math course using sophisticated tracking of skill development, instant feedback, and help levels based on mastery of concepts, as well as something the Harvard students did not get: the enjoyment of a video-game-like interface.

    • Courses can be offered online or blended with face-to-face instruction. "We’re talking, with the best of these programs, about very personal computer tutors," says Ira H. Fuchs, executive director of Next Generation Learning Challenges,

    • Carnegie Mellon University’s Open Learning Initiative already offers adaptive-learning courses in 12 subjects, including statistics and French.

    • The Carnegie courses are open-source, available free or for a nominal fee. Jose Ferreira, Knewton’s chief executive, says the company is charging Arizona State about $150 per student to use the program in a course.

    • Programs like Knewton and the Open Learning Initiative adjust the course to the student. They present every topic as a series of skills and building-block concepts. Animation, videos, interactive diagrams, and other Web-based features pop up, to distinguish ratios from rates in a math course, for instance. Interactive tutors lead students through mastery of each skill, giving short quizzes, scoring them, and offering additional help, such as extra quizzes and more explanations, when requested.

    • In contrast with a lecture course, advocates say, students using an adaptive-learning approach are strongly motivated to advance. That, says Mr. Blakemore of Arizona State, is because with each skill, students accumulate points and badges, as in a video game, and they know they have to get a specific amount of these to proceed to another level.

    • But does all this really help students? Carnegie Mellon’s open-learning program is the only one whose results have been studied extensively in actual courses—Knewton is too new—and the answer appears to be yes. Students taking an accelerated open-learning statistics course at Carnegie Mellon in blended form completed it in eight weeks; they learned as much material, and performed as well on tests, as students taking a traditional 15-week course.

    • Only two studies have evaluated adaptive learning in community-college settings, Ms. Jaggars says, and the results were not good. "Both showed much higher withdrawal rates for the online-course students than for the students in the face-to-face version of the course

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: