Learning is Adapting – are you?


The higher education learning landscape is continually evolving.  Michigan State University and the HUB for Innovation in Learning and Technology strive to understand this evolution and inform stakeholders regarding the latest market intelligence and global program opportunities.  One of the ways we maintain this intelligence is through our connections with leaders in the online and digital learning industry.

Manoj Kulkarni

Manoj Kulkarni, CEO, Realizeit

I recently had the opportunity to interview Manoj Kulkarni, CEO and Ashley O’Connor, Senior Director, Strategic Partnerships from Realizeit and discuss the five key-principles of an effective adaptive learning system.

We all know that every student is different in aspects and attributes related to learning such as prior knowledge, knowledge gaps, rate of knowledge acquisition, motivation factors, learning preferences, learning habits and styles. Yet our curriculum designs and instruction methods treat every student the same and provide a one-size-fits-all teaching and learning mechanism. By design – they work for some and not for all. The current systems are not designed to help students learn to their full potential. Wouldn’t it be great if we were able to design an approach that respects the uniqueness of every learner? That can deliver a learning experience adapted to the uniqueness of every learner? This forms the basis of the notion of adaptive learning.

Now admittedly, this is what great teachers have always done. In essence, the Realizeit system emulates these model behaviors and makes them available to teachers via its intelligent system capabilities. It allows institutions and teachers to do what would be nearly impossible or extremely difficult to achieve at scale – helping every student individually to success. The goal at Realizeit is to provide a system that can help every teacher become an effective teacher for every student; a system that can truly enable the shift to student-centered teaching and learning. And that leads to improved student engagement and satisfaction which ultimately leads to learning success. We need to give all students a chance to achieve to their maximum learning potential..

Adaptive learning receives a lot of attention in a technology context, however, the key underlying principle is that is first and foremost a concept and method of providing differentiated learning experiences across the student’s educational journey in service to improving student success. Technology should then enable the concept to be implemented so that high quality outcomes can be consistently achieved, at scale and affordably. Various technology systems provide that differentiation in different ways to varying degrees of scale and value.

Realizeit’s experience demonstrates that success from adaptive learning can come only when implemented at scale. While initial implementations at institutions will likely start on a smaller scale, such as select courses developed by interested faculty members, these initial implementations must be purposefully designed and supported by the institution for seamless scale building ranging from growing to a connected sequence of courses at a department level all the way to the full program level and multiple programs in an institution. To achieve success at scale, the five key principles that must underpin an effective adaptive learning architecture are

  1.    Connect knowledge elements across subject domains and across the student journey rather than treating them as disconnected, artificial silos of courses.
  2.    Start each student at their optimum point of need, by quickly determining what they already know and don’t know as it relates to the specific subject matter at hand.
  3.    Adapt the content and instruction to suit every individual student, instead of expecting every student to adapt to one version of content and instruction. Embed and fit adaptive learning to make it seamless
  4.    Continuously measure student learning and behavior and dynamically calibrate their pathways to success – i.e. a personalized navigation system to guide them optimally to their destination.
  5.    Enable teachers with insights and tools to quickly understand the strengths and gaps in the knowledge of their students and tailor their instruction and interventions accordingly.

Realizeit serves the higher education and K-12 learning as well as professional and corporate learning clients.  Colorado Technical University operates Realizeit at scale and has one of the largest implementations of adaptive learning in higher education in the world. From their first pilot in Math and English in 2012, CTU has seen improvements in student engagement and learning. Early on the University branded their use of the Realizeit platform as “intellipath” to help differentiate the student experience. Today, intellipath is being used at all levels of the institution from orientation to general education to upper level courses and CTU’s entire online MBA program.

The University of Central Florida implemented Realizeit in Fall 2014 with three subjects in the fields of Psychology, Nursing and Mathematics.  College of Nursing Faculty and Coordinator Dr. Julie F. Hinkle shared:

“I have been very impressed with the both the potential for Realizeit to drastically change how I can deliver my course to my students and with the professionalism of the Realizeit team members . . . this is the first time I have felt that I now have the tools to deliver a truly adaptive learning and testing experience.”

Ashley O'Connor

Ashley O’Connor, Senior Director, Strategic Partnerships at Realizeit

To learn more about how Realizeit’s customers are using adapted learning in their institutions please contact Ashley O’Connor, Senior Director, Strategic Partnerships, ashley.oconnor@realizeitlearning.com, 847-363-2929.  

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About rheadmore

I spend my working day at a great higher education institution by the name of Michigan State University. I try to spend a majority of my free time coaching youth sports, baseball and basketball are my favorites. This blog is dedicated to enhancing youth coaching and helping youth become successful and well contributing members of society. This philosophy was passed on to me by my father who always stressed leaving something better then the way you found it. I have been trying to live by those words for most of my adult life. Thanks for checking out my blog.
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