Adaptivity and scalability are currently two prominent trends in education technology. In 2013, Thomas Friedman claimed that MOOCs (massive open online courses) have “more potential to lift more people out of poverty - by providing them an affordable education to get a job or improve in the job they have.”
Adrian Sannier, Chief Academic Technology Officer for EdPlus at ASU and a Professor of Practice in the School of Computing, Informatics, and Decision Engineering at Arizona State University, says there are two trends that have the most potential: adaptivity and scalability.
“The most important of these is the application of adaptive tutors to personalise the teaching of math and sciences,” Sannier said. Students can access their adaptive tutors through computers and mobile devices, and get quality feedback. This is very cost efficient and it allows for large amounts of students to master complex curricula.
A lot of these technologies are powered by artificial intelligence and continue to grow in accessibility and potential, and provide “students and their teachers with unprecedented insight into individual learning patterns,” according to Sannier.
Sannier believes the adaptive approach is one for the long haul because it’s able to directly undertake the main challenge that faces higher education today, which is how we can increase access to high-quality education, while decreasing costs.
“At the core of this challenge is the need to scale the human attention so central to learning,” Sannier said. Sannier states that increasing access to individualized learning processes will eventually allow us to reach new populations of potential learners, and at more feasible costs.
Scaling is what’s going to get millions of students the instruction they need. “If you want to use technology in education, scale is your friend, not your enemy,” states Sannier.
Sannier views scalability as a critical component of the future of tech. “Scalability is a solution to an unsustainable model in which individual professors are expected to create individual digital experiences at cottage-industry scales,” Sannier said.
Sannier is hopeful that other trends will eventually emerge from adaptivity and scalability in education technology, including “continuous and dynamic improvement for both the learner and the course.”
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