Better, Cheaper, Faster: Leveraging OER and Adaptive Learning to Produce Improved Outcomes

Concurrent Session 6

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

OER is a popular buzzword in higher education, but the cost-saving benefits and efficacy are widely debated. OER and higher education experts from adaptive learning company Knewton, which powers courses at colleges and universities, will take participants through a pilot college course that uses a combination of material, including OER.


Jason Jordan is the Vice President of Higher Education Markets at Knewton. His passion is creating products and services to help students succeed in college; especially students who arrive under prepared. He believes that access to education should extend to anyone who desires to learn and that facilitating equal access to education regardless of a student’s past performance or socio-economic status is crucial to maintaining the health of our society. Previously, he was SVP Director of Digital Strategy at Pearson Education where he was responsible for digital product strategy and product creation for the College Foundations Group (English, Mathematics, and Student Success) including, MyMathLab, MyFoundationsLab, My WritingLab, and MyStudentSuccessLab. Jason is also chair of the College and Career Readiness Pathways group -- a pan Higher Ed group charged with anticipating changing market needs in developmental education.

Extended Abstract

The cost of higher education keeps rising. Americans have accrued $1.2 trillion in student debt. And more debt cannot continue to be the answer to college accessibility. Innovation and the right technology could provide a possible solution to this problem because of the potential to provide cheaper and better course materials. OER combined with adaptive learning could be an easy access entry point to that technology.

OER represents an increasingly attractive cost-saving addition to learning support and allows for educators to control costs while also providing adaptive content to meet and improve learning objectives. We anticipate that in ten years, half of all credit-bearing college courses in America will be delivered over the internet, giving colleges access to almost unlimited free resources.

The undergraduate experience — and the price of college — will never fall back to 20th century cost. Even still, more can be done, and colleges and universities have been relatively slow to adapt new technology in the classroom that could curb cost. With a vast world of OER content available, teachers have the opportunity to use these resources to at the very least supplement their coursework, which will ideally create more engaging and personalized learning experiences for their students.

Jason Jordan, Vice President of Higher Education Markets at Knewton, and Ken Goldstein, VP Institutional Partnerships, will lead a discussion about open educational resources and adpative technology, and how they will transform learning opportunities and access in higher education. They will take participants through a course, which uses a combination of materials including OER now in use across several colleges and universities.

At the colleges and universities where this is implemented, students supplement their coursework with Knewton adaptive assignments at home so they come to the next class up to speed and ready to move forward. This also allows for instructors to be better prepared to review and intervene in class when necessary. As a required component of class, students must work towards mastery or complete at least 80% of the Knewton assignments, for example 13 of 16 assignments, in order to sit for the final examination.

It’s never been easy to show the efficacy of any given set of instructional materials, since many other factors contribute to how students learn, from how the teacher runs the classroom to what they had for breakfast. But, looking at case studies and Knewton’s own research, Jason and Ken will show how after researching interactions involving approximately 288,000 students, they found that students performed better on average in college-level science courses with Knewton-powered adaptive assignments than in those without.

In the presentation, Jason and Ken will assume the role of class instructors – introducing an example topic and how it would be presented to students. Then, they will show how the course is designed for students to work on adaptive assignments.

Specific material and content covered by the presenters during the session:

  • Provide the participants with an opportunity to test out a sample course assignment, which will adapt to each individual;
  • Circulate the room to answers any specific questions;
  • Introduce a second topic to present to the participants;
  • Show another example of an adaptive assignment for the participants to try to reinforce the understanding of the second topic;
  • Then, they will demonstrate the “students” progress and analytics on the dashboard and demonstrate how an instructor would navigate the system.

Objectives and take-aways include:

  • Learn how to implement adaptive learning combined with OER into your classroom;
  • Walk away with tangible tips on how to engage students with online tools and adaptive learning;
  • Connect with resources and practice lessons that can be utilized with students, teachers, administrators and parents.