Student Perceptions of Adaptive Learning


Karen L. Pedersen, Chief Knowledge Office, Online Learning Consortium

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At the ELI conference, I attended a session entitled “A Tale of Two Contexts: Student Perceptions of Adaptive Learning” facilitated by Dr. Constance (Connie) Johnson, Colorado Technical University; Dr. Patsy Moskal, University of Central Florida, and Dr. Charles (Chuck) Dziuban, University of Central Florida.  Both institutions are using an adaptive learning platform called Realizeit, but that’s about where the comparisons between these two institutions stop.  Their missions are different and the types of learners they serve are very different.  But, the study they launched together showcases how those differences evaporate when you simply focus on students and their learning. 

For learners in the classes using the Realizeit adaptive learning platform, this is what they learned.  In the five slides below you can see the results from CTU sitting right beside those from UCF.  Below are insights from key areas from the student’s perspective:

The last few minutes of their session were incredibly powerful.  The presenters shared an interactive visual of student engagement over time focusing on four prototype learners.  The Rabbits (blue line below) finished the course very quickly.  The Tortoises (purple line) finished the course in a slow deliberate pace.  Whereas the Frogs (green line) went week-by-week.  In the time-based interactive visual, you could see the Kangaroos (red line) wait until close to the end and then complete the course very quickly.  I wish I could share the time-lapsed visualization with you, but when you see Connie, Patsy or Chuck ask them if they will share. 

I was excited because I believe we are nearing a tipping point with regard to personalization!  While the presenters shared that their study was by no means the end of their exploration, it certainly points to some intriguing initial findings.  They invited other institutions using the Realizeit platform to get involved in their research work.  If you have an interest in learning more about this study, or if you would like your institution to get involved, please contact Connie, Patsy or Chuck:

Dr. Constance Johnson –

Dr. Chuck Dziuban –

Dr. Patsy Moskal – 

About Dr. Karen L. Pedersen

Dr. Karen Pedersen serves as the Chief Knowledge Officer for the Online Learning Consortium (OLC). In this role, she has responsibility to gather, curate and leverage the intellectual capital created by and disseminated through the organization to create and enhance services and resources provided to the OLC community. She works in five key areas including learning innovation, quality enhancement, community engagement and development, product development leadership, as well as publications, research, and policy.

Prior to joining the Online Learning Consortium, Pedersen served as the Associate Vice President for Extended Campuses at Northern Arizona University. In this role she was responsible for leading a system-wide enrollment management transformation as well as managing marketing, technology, and academic operations. She led a network of over 35 campuses in Arizona, developing new business and market opportunities, actively collaborating with and growing community college partnerships, as well as developing scalable, integrated and lean business processes/workflows. The scope of her responsibilities included coaching and mentoring 180+ full and part-time staff members in addition to supporting over 750 faculty members.

For eleven years Pedersen served as the Vice President for Professional Studies at Southwestern College (SC). In that role she was responsible for envisioning and building an online program from the ground up and launching over 25 innovative online programs. While there Pedersen expanded military partnerships and engaged in strategic infrastructure projects while successfully positioning her institution in an enrollment growth trajectory. SC participated in the Academic Quality Improvement Program (AQIP) through its regional accreditor (The Higher Learning Commission) and Pedersen participated in two strategy forums during her tenure. In addition, she served as an evaluator with the Kansas Award for Excellence and utilized the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence in her operations.

Pedersen also held the academic associate and dean roles at Upper Iowa University’s Extended University for four years. In these roles she was responsible for curriculum development, enhancing learner success initiatives, as well as faculty hiring, training, and evaluation. She also built the foundations for an online operation and traveled internationally to develop partnerships in Singapore, Hong Kong, and Malaysia.

Prior to starting her administrative career, Pedersen served as a faculty member at the University of Nebraska at Kearney. She holds bachelor of science and master of science degrees from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a doctor of philosophy degree from Oklahoma State University. Pedersen has numerous international leadership experiences having worked collaboratively with the Indonesian National Police and the US government to provide professional expertise for a major distance education initiative as well as serving as an international keynote speaker.

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