Implementing Adaptive Learning: Multiple Perspectives from Practitioners, Leadership and Researchers
Concurrent Session 2
The University of Central Florida (UCF) is strategically implementing adaptive learning to improve student success. In this session, panelists, including academic administrators, educational researchers, faculty members, and instructional designers, will share lessons learned from a two-year pilot adaptive learning initiative at UCF and discuss implementation strategies in higher educational institutions.
Presentation Description & Goals
Panelists will share lessons learned from a two-year pilot adaptive learning initiative at the University of Central Florida (UCF). The goals of the panel session are to:
Discuss the rationale for integrating adaptive learning technologies in higher education
Reflect on the benefits of such an initiative for students, faculty, and the university
Share implementation procedures and challenges
Recommend key strategies that have been developed or have evolved from the initiative
The session will be moderated by: Baiyun Chen, Ph.D., PAL Team Lead, Center for Distributed Learning (CDL). The panel members for this session include various stakeholders, including academic administrators, educational researchers, faculty members, and instructional designers. Depending on availability, the following panelists will present:
Thomas Cavanagh, Ph.D., Associate Vice President, CDL
Charles Dziuban, Ph.D., Director, Research Initiative for Teaching Effectiveness (RITE)
Patsy Moskal, Ph.D., Associate Director, RITE
Debbie Hahs-Vaughn, Ph.D., Professor, College of Education and Human Performance
Craig Tidwell, Ph.D., Instructor, Bachelor of Applied Science Program
Marwan Shaban, Ph.D., Instructor, Bachelor of Applied Science Program
Debbie Kirkley, M.A. Personalized Adaptive Learning (PAL) Instructional Designer, CDL
Corrinne Stull, M.A., PAL Instructional Designer, CDL
Jessica Tojo, M.A., PAL Instructional Designer, CDL
This is a highly interactive session. The moderator will facilitate four rounds of discussion regarding rationale, benefits, challenges, and strategies. Each participant will have access to an editable Google Doc with presentation content and resources and can add questions, ideas, suggestions and additional resources throughout the session. The participants will have access to the resources after the session for their own reference.
The University of Central Florida (UCF) is a metropolitan research university that includes 12 colleges and offers over 200 degree programs. Currently UCF is the largest university by enrollment in Florida and one of the largest universities in the nature with over 64,000 students with representation from all 50 states and 152 countries. UCF is strategically implementing adaptive learning to improve student success in large-enrollment gateway courses and courses that have traditionally had unacceptably high levels of D and F grades and course withdrawals (DFW).
The initiative is a collaborative effort among students, faculty members, instructional designers, IT staff, senior administrators, and vendors. First, our selection of a primary adaptive learning platform involved in-depth analyses of adaptive products from multiple vendors by academic administrators, faculty members, and both instructional design and IT staff. After we decided to select RealizeIT as our adaptive learning platform, with the assistance of the vendor, we piloted two courses in the fall 2014: Nursing undergraduate pathophysiology and General Psychology. To date, we have built and tested courses that included Psychology, College Algebra, Pathophysiology (Nursing), Statistics for Educational Data, Professional Administrative Writing (Public Administration), Computer and Network Security (BAS), Local Area Network Technology (BAS), and Applied Systems Analysis (BAS). Courses have been taught in fully online (W), blended (M), and face-to-face (P) modalities, as well as at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. After more than two years of pilot work with adaptive learning, we are reasonably confident about how faculty and students respond to teaching and learning in an educational environment that is personalized and adaptive. Student success has been positive and the team has begun publishing results in peer-reviewed outlets.
Designing and developing effective adaptive learning courses is not without challenges. One faculty member compared the effort to writing a textbook. Although the platform can ingest content from existing sources, organizing it into the learning map and developing assessments can be time-consuming. To alleviate this burden on the faculty, UCF’s Center for Distributed Learning hired instructional designers, adaptive course developers and graduate teaching assistants to reduce the workload on faculty. The Center for Distributed Learning engages academic departments and colleges in our adaptive learning efforts, rather than individual faculty members, in order to ensure departmental buy-in and a longer-term return from investments in adaptive course development.
In the last two years, we have built 17 adaptive learning courses, 44 section, which impacted over 2,000 students. At the end of each semester, we surveyed students regarding their reactions to the adaptive learning interface and their experiences in the adaptive learning environment. Students have been positive regarding the system and how the approach influences their learning, with the majority indicating that they would take more adaptive learning courses if given the chance.
The participating faculty members were optimistic about using adaptive learning. The faculty members’ consensus was that adaptive learning is best suited for courses that have a hierarchical structure—where there are interdependent learning and skill requirements. They pointed out that adaptive learning platforms should be considered an instructional tool and that effective use of that tool is the primary consideration. Such platforms can be used for the entire course or in conjunction with other technologies, such as the mainstream Learning Management System. These faculty members expressed the opinion that adaptive learning is the future of higher education.
Panelists will share findings from our pilot research in the session. Overall, personalized adaptive learning has had successes with our early pilot courses. We have learned the strengths and limitation of the adaptive systems. Faculty members and instructional designers are working collaboratively to complete another five courses in the next three semesters. We are aiming to scale adaptive learning in large-enrollment gateway courses and expand our support to faculty members using various adaptive learning system, such as ALEKS and LearnSmart from McGraw-Hill. The Center for Distributed Learning (CDL) is committed to providing pedagogical and technical resources to assist faculty to successfully integrate adaptive system that fits best with their teaching.