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Mapping the Adaptive Learning Landscape

From the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s announcement of the finalists for its Next Generation Courseware Challenge to the launch of the new inSpark Science Network, adaptive learning has been in the news. Though diverse in their content and structure, the core feature that adaptive learning solutions share is the ability to respond to learner activity by adjusting assessments, content, pace, and sequence of instruction. Whether offered on its own or as a supplement to face-to-face instruction, adaptive learning presents the exciting prospect of evidence-based personalized instruction, at scale.

Despite the recent prominence of a few adaptive learning providers, it is surprisingly difficult to identify the major players in this field. In our new report, “Personalizing Post-Secondary Education: An Overview of Adaptive Learning Solutions for Higher Education,” Jessie Brown aims to fill that gap, reviewing the business profiles of 13 adaptive learning solutions designed specifically for use in higher education.

Focusing on the providers, the high-level technical and pedagogical characteristics of their solution, their business models, and their partnerships, the report identifies several important distinctions among providers. First, some solutions are “open-content,” offering a platform that can accommodate third-party content, while others are “closed-content,” accommodating only the provider’s own proprietary content. Second, some solutions integrate with major learning management systems, while others host their own learning management system as a feature of a comprehensive adaptive solution. Finally, beyond content, solutions offer different degrees of customizability of their content delivery and adaptive features.

The motivation for this report was our own desire to learn about the adaptive learning market, and finding that an overview like this did not exist. It is our hope that, by compiling and organizing crucial product and organizational information in one place, this resource provides those interested in adopting or studying adaptive technologies with a place to start.

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