Informing and Performing: A Study Comparing Adaptive Learning to Traditional Learning

Meg Coffin Murray, Jorge Pérez
InSITE 2015  •  2015  •  pp. 924
Technology has transformed education, perhaps most evidently in course delivery options. However, compelling questions remain about how technology impacts learning. Adaptive learning tools are technology-based artifacts that interact with learners and vary presentation based upon that interaction. This paper compares adaptive learning with a conventional teaching approach implemented in a digital literacy course. Current research explores the hypothesis that adapting instruction to an individual’s learning style results in better learning outcomes. Computer technology has long been seen as an answer to the scalability and cost of individualized instruction. Adaptive learning is touted as a potential game-changer in higher education, a panacea with which institutions may solve the riddle of the iron triangle: quality, cost and access. Though the research is scant, this study and a few others like it indicate that today’s adaptive learning systems have negligible impact on learning outcomes, one aspect of quality. Clearly, more research like this study, some of it from the perspective of adaptive learning systems as informing systems, is needed before the far-reaching promise of advanced learning systems can be realized.

A revised version of the paper was published in Informing Science: the International Journal of an Emerging Transdiscipline, Volume 18, 2015
Adaptive learning, adaptive learning system, personalized learning systems, iron triangle, informing science
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