The Playbook for Adaptive Learning: From Project Initiation Through Successful Implementation

Concurrent Session 1 & 2 (combined)

Brief Abstract

The recent, rapid growth of adaptive and personalized learning cannot be ignored, and now is the time to jump in.  Fortunately, we have developed a framework to help negotiate the decisions necessary for you to build your own campus strategy for adaptive learning.


J. Garvey Pyke, Ed.D., is the Executive Director of the the Center for Teaching at UNC Charlotte. As part of the leadership team for the School of Professional Studies, his work involves fueling the enrollment growth at the university through online course development, creating high impact student success programs using personalized and adaptive learning, promoting faculty success and scholarly teaching through innovative faculty development programs, and overseeing the provision and support of enterprise academic technologies. Garvey is also an alumnus of OLC's IELOL program (2010) and has remained an active member of this professional community of practice and served as co-director of IELOL 2018 and as a faculty member of IELOL from 2019 - 2022. He has served on various conference committees for OLC Accelerate and has served on the Steering Committee for OLC Innovate.
Kiran Budhrani is the Director for Personalized and Adaptive Learning at the Center for Teaching and Learning at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

Extended Abstract

Why Adaptive Learning Is Timely and Important

To be frank, trying to undertake an adaptive learning project is a big, hairy beast.  It has lots of tentacles, and it is very intimidating to even the most seasoned ID professionals.  However, it is truly an exciting time in our field that the backend technology is finally powerful enough to fulfill the promise of academic technology--a truly personalized way for learning and learner support on a mass scale.  The dreams of the early progenitors of programmed instruction and teaching machines, like Edward Thorndike and Sidney Pressey, are now a reality through personalized and adaptive learning systems.  

However, our ID-geekery and excitement about this is not the same thing as having an achievable plan for making this kind of innovation happen on your campus.  Fortunately, we have been working on adaptive learning projects for the past four years and have learned the hard way what it takes to be successful.  This workshop will leverage our own lessons learned to help you develop your own plan on how to get started or to move your early efforts into a more sustainable model towards an enterprise-wide implementation of personalized and adaptive learning.   

At the outset, we believe it is important to note that higher education leaders “should approach adaptive learning projects less as technology projects and more as large-scale curricular redesign undertakings” (Gartner Hype Cycle for the Digital Workplace, 2019).  With this in mind, it is not overstating things to say that the courseware development piece is the easy part: the hard part is fundamentally redesigning curriculum--and the attendant processes and people involved.


How to Get Started in Creating Your Campus Strategy

During this workshop, we will walk you through the major decision points and phases for building out your campus strategy for this kind of innovative curriculum redesign. We will identify pain points, emphasize methods for success, and help create realistic timelines and cost models for sustainability.

A planning toolkit will be provided to support the workshop activities. Working in groups, participants will work on the following phases towards a “campus plan” to take back to their home institutions: 

Phase 1: Initiation

  • Launching Points 

    • Getting Plugged In

    • Awareness and Capacity Building

    • Marshalling Support & Resources

    • Alignment to Bigger Strategic Needs

    • Philosophy and Mindset

  • Technology and Support Considerations

    • Adoption, Vendor Selection

    • LMS Integration

    • IT Infrastructure

    • IT Governance

    • Bookstore Coordination

    • External Tools

    • Accessibility

Phase 2: Project Planning

  • Creating Realistic Timelines

    • Mapping Out Project Phases

    • Multi-Year Scope

    • An Unending Project

  • Stakeholders

    • Doers, Champions, and Cheerleaders

    • Key Leaders and Staff

    • Stakeholder Roles

    • Levels of Involvement

  • Size and Scope of Projects

    • Institutional Approaches to Adaptive Solutions

    • Start Small vs. Go Big

    • Intra- and Inter-Departmental Co-Design 

    • Pilot Approach

    • Scalpel Approach

    • Chainsaw Approach

Phase 3: Design and Delivery

  • Designing Curriculum

    • Outcomes

    • Evidences

    • Mapping  

    • Strategies for Personalization and Adaptivity

  • Building the Course

    • Courseware Development Methodology

    • Course Blueprints

    • Blending In-Class and Out-of-Class Activities

    • Adaptive Content, Questions, Feedback

  • Teaching the Course

    • Course Integration and Testing

    • Cleanup

    • Grades and Analytics

    • Just-in-Time Teaching 

    • Student and Faculty Readiness

    • Room Scheduling

Phase 4: Scaling Up

  • Widening Faculty and Student Support

    • Faculty Onboarding and Development

    • Troubleshooting

    • FAQs

    • Ongoing Care & Feeding

    • Growing Staff and Resources

    • Course Revisions

    • Role of Faculty 

    • Role of Academic Advisors

    • Bookstore Coordination 

  • Evaluation Plan and Reporting

    • KPIs & Metrics

    • Evaluation Process and Instruments

    • Who Needs What Data

    • ROI & TCO

    • Soft Goals and Hard Goals

  • Anticipating and Mitigating Risks / Threats

    • Points of Conflict

    • Resources - Money & Staffing

    • Difficult Stakeholders

    • Opportunity Cost

    • Changing Priorities

  • Strategic Engagement / Communication

    • Telling Your Story

    • Giving Back to the Field

    • Communicating With Senior Leaders

    • Networking and Community Building

Phase 5: Sharing and Reflection

The last segment of the workshop will require participants to share their “campus plan” in group discussions and present their ideas for feedback and determine next steps to make adaptive learning a reality on their home campus.