Adaptive Learning: Passing Fad or an Approach to Stay?

Concurrent Session 1

Add to My Schedule

Brief Abstract

Five years ago, adaptive learning was the buzzword of the day– complete with “robot tutors in the sky” kind of hype. But has the hype proven out? Is there evidence to back up the promises of adaptive learning? Further, what have we learned about effective learning because of these new practices and approaches? When it comes to edtech, it's easy to make claims that distract rather than invite thoughtful conversation. Join a group of experts, entrepreneurs and educators for a discussion that discusses the state of adaptive learning, looks at what we’ve learned so far, and what might be next.

Presenters

Jacqui Hayes serves as Smart Sparrow's Director of Studio Innovation. An award-winning science educator, she is passionate about enabling anyone to pursue STEM careers, bringing deep expertise in science education solutions. As the product manager for Smart Sparrow’s suite of science courseware, she led development of award-winning BioBeyond from concept to launch to ongoing improvements. In 2017, she was a finalist in the NSF Visualization Awards and the Department of Education EdSim Challenge. In 2018 she, Dr. Ariel Anbar, and Dr. Saad Khan collaborated to win NYU's Algorithm for Change AI/ML competition.
As ACTNext’s senior director of strategy implementation and operations, Ada Woo serves as chief of staff for the R&D and innovation unit. She is responsible for the achievement of strategic initiatives and programs for ACTNext, as well as managing the unit’s day-to-day operations. Dr. Woo works closely with ACT’s strategic partners from the Iowa edtech community, as well as local and state government, to leverage ACT’s core capabilities in learning, measurement, and navigation. Dr. Woo has over a decade of experience in the assessment field. Prior to joining ACTNext, Ada was director of measurement and testing at the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) where she led the psychometric and research staff on the development of nursing and allied health testing programs. In 2015, Ada and her team at NCSBN successfully transitioned and adapted the NCLEX-RN licensure examination as the entry-to-practice test for registered nurses in ten jurisdictions in Canada. Ada is active in the education and technology community. In 2018, she was appointed to the Iowa Innovation Council, an advisory group charged with developing strategies to encourage and support innovation in Iowa. Nationally, she has served as chairs of the National Council of Measurement in Education outreach committee and the Association of Test Publishers certification and licensure division. Ada is currently a member of multiple testing organization technical advisory groups, including the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. In 2019, she was a finalist for the Technology Association of Iowa’s “Emerging Technology Leader of the Year.” Ada holds a PhD in Quantitative Psychology from the University of Texas at Arlington. Her research interests include personalized learning, adaptive testing, technology enhanced assessment, and measurement of decision-making as it relates to job performance.

Additional Authors

Dr. Dror Ben-Naim is the Founder & CEO of Smart Sparrow, pioneering active and adaptive learning technology. Prior to founding Smart Sparrow, Dror received a BSc in Physics and Computer Science and a PhD in A.I. and Education from The University of New South Wales in Sydney, and there led the Adaptive eLearning Research Group working in field of Intelligent Tutoring Systems and Educational Data Mining. He is a Professor of Practice at the Arizona State University Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, Associate Director of the Center for Education Through eXploration (ETX), and an Adjunct Academic at the UNSW School of Computer Science and Engineering.

Extended Abstract

This session’s presenters have been actively engaged in furthering innovation in learning and assessment for years. From informal learning at the youngest levels to adult training and professional licensure, they will offer their diverse perspectives on the promises, realities, and future of adaptive learning.

Ada Woo is ACTNext’s senior director of strategy implementation and operations. Ada has held technical and leadership roles at healthcare licensure examination programs prior to her current work in edtech. Before joining the ACTNext team, she led the psychometric and research staff on the development of nursing and allied health testing programs. In 2015, Ada and her colleagues successfully transitioned and adapted a nursing licensure examination as the entry-to-practice test for registered nurses in both the U.S. and Canada.  Ada’s research interests include adaptive testing, technology enhanced item types and assessment of decision-making as it relates to job performance.

In addition to her work in psychometrics and research, Ada is an active member of the assessment community.  She is currently a member of multiple testing organization technical advisory groups. She is a past chair of the National Council of Measurement in Education outreach committee and of the Association of Test Publishers certification and licensure division.  Currently, Ada is the 2019 ATP Innovations in Testing Program Chair. She holds a PhD in Quantitative Psychology from the University of Texas at Arlington.

ACT and ACTNext have big plans for making assessment more personalized and adaptive, and are already researching the effects of differently scaffolded content and through projects like the HERA system - a holistic educational resource and assessment system for scientific thinking. Ada will share her learnings and experiences from her extensive work in assessment with attendees, as well as her outlook on future directions of research and technological development.

Dror Ben-Naim holds a PhD in Intelligent Tutoring Systems and Educational Data Mining from the University of New South Wales in Sydney. In 2011 he founded Smart Sparrow, an elearning platform that uses technology to personalize learning and engage students around the world. Since its launch, Smart Sparrow’s cloud-based platform has given each student a personalized learning experience; they move at their own pace, on their own time, with real-time adaptive feedback to guide them through challenging material. Smart Sparrow’s team of learning designers make use of authentic assessment, measuring student progress and performance as they interact with lessons instead of through static question banks at a lesson’s culmination. Over the years, Dror has seen as well as considerable changes in the edtech landscape.

Dror will share what he and the Smart Sparrow team have learned about adaptive learning, through trial and error, mounds of user data, and independently researched impact reports. Dror will also discuss his expectations for the next five years of educational technology with attendees and his fellow presenters, and share the research and collaborations (such as those with ASU and ACT) that have shaped Smart Sparrow’s future direction. Innovative projects such as ACT’s Holistic Framework and the integration of algorithmic sequencing and designed adaptivity hold the potential to revolutionize how students interact with learning experiences and how we as a sector approach adaptive learning.

Dr. Ariel Anbar has over 20 years of teaching experience and field research in geology and astrobiology. He has worked with a diverse range of partners, from those in the edtech industry, to philanthropic organizations such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, to government agencies including NASA and the Department of Education. He is also a member of the American Geophysical Union and has published numerous scholarly works. In 2014, Ariel founded the Center for Education Through Exploration (ETX), an interdisciplinary center at Arizona State University, which promotes innovative new ways of teaching and evaluation, specifically those rooted in exploration, such as project-based learning and authentic assessment. Ariel’s team at ETX, along with Smart Sparrow, also founded the Inspark Teaching Network to create and share next-generation science courseware, and partnered with NASA to establish Infiniscope, a project that connects communities of science experts and researchers to educators, parents, and learners, grades K-12.

As a classroom (and digital) professor and educational content creator, Ariel has seen the impacts of various educational trends first-hand. He also has insight as a researcher and Center Director on the various innovations that have been introduced at ASU, many led by ETX. For example, SRI Education conducted a study at four higher education institutions: Arizona State University, Miami Dade College, Mohave Community College, National University. Researchers measured the impact of incorporating Inspark’s BioBeyond science courseware (620 students) compared to a traditional course (2,900 students) for in Fall 2016. The study found that use of BioBeyond improved end-of-course grades by up to half a letter grade.

Ariel will offer his perspective on the development and integration of adaptive learning experiences into K-12 and Higher Ed offerings, as well as his insight into the ever-changing needs of institutions and students. Attendees will be empowered to critically examine these challenges and to find ways to address them in their own work, whether through existing adaptive learning technology, forthcoming machine learning technologies, or otherwise.