Adaptive Learning: A Revolution in Education

Anticipated for the coming years, the adaptive learning market is poised to achieve a significant milestone, with an estimated USD 5.3 billion by 2025. Discover how adopting adaptive learning can empower organizations to provide tailored learning pathways — unraveling its fundamental principles and delving into a contemporary use case. Join us!

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Sergiy has 18 years of experience in eLearning and management. Creating educational programs, career paths, online and offline courses he is making the educational world better as a co-founder of RG.

Adaptive Learning: A Revolution in Education

Witnessing the transformative case of adaptive learning, the University of California, Los Angeles, stands as a beacon of its potential. The application of adaptive learning within a course produced remarkable outcomes:

  • Median exam scores experienced a substantial leap, progressing from a modest 53% to an impressive 72-80% range.
  • The average course attrition rate underwent a four-fold reduction, plummeting from 43.8% to a commendable 13.4%.
  • A striking narrative emerged for women students, as they accomplished a remarkable ten-fold attrition decrease ratio, defying odds by declining from 73.1% to an astonishingly low 7.4%.

This promising glimpse into the possibilities of adaptive learning sets the stage for a deeper exploration of its mechanisms and applications.

Definition: Adaptive Learning Technology

What does it mean - Adaptive Learning

Adaptive learning technology stands as a dynamic paradigm within the educational landscape. At its core, adaptive learning leverages data-driven insights and technological prowess to tailor educational experiences to the unique needs of individual learners.

Grounded in the belief that no two learners are alike, adaptive learning technology analyzes various factors – from prior knowledge and skill gaps to learning pace and preferred formats.

As learners interact with the material, the system keenly observes, adjusting its course to amplify comprehension where needed and propelling learners forward with precisely calibrated challenges. This intricate dance of customization and progress tracking ensures that every learner traverses a trajectory uniquely tailored to their growth, ultimately cultivating a more profound grasp of the subject matter.

As educational horizons expand, grasping the essence of “what is adaptive learning” becomes instrumental in shaping tailored and impactful student journeys.

How Does Adaptive Learning Technology Help Teachers?

How adaptive learning technology help teachers

Adaptive learning technology, armed with its ability to personalize instruction, track progress, optimize resources, and provide data-backed insights, transforms the teaching experience into a dynamic and impactful endeavor.

1. Personalized Instruction. Adaptive learning technology acts as a virtual teaching assistant, identifying each student’s strengths, weaknesses, and learning pace.

  • For instance, a high school math teacher employing adaptive learning technology might recognize that a student struggles with algebraic equations but excels in geometry. The teacher can then direct the student toward specialized exercises and resources that address their specific challenge, optimizing their learning journey.

2. Real-time Progress Tracking. With adaptive learning, teachers gain real-time insights into students’ progress and performance.

  • For instance, an elementary school teacher utilizing adaptive learning technology might notice that a student needs to catch up in reading comprehension exercises. Armed with this knowledge, the teacher can promptly provide additional reading materials, quizzes, or interactive activities to bridge the gap and ensure the student stays on track.

3. Efficient Resource Allocation. Adaptive learning technology optimizes resource allocation by streamlining the creation and distribution of educational materials.

  • Imagine a college professor who wants to teach a complex concept in a biology lecture. With adaptive learning, the professor can offer various resources, from text explanations to interactive simulations, ensuring that each student grasps the material according to their learning preferences.

4. Empowering Data-Backed Decisions. Adaptive learning technology equips teachers with a treasure trove of data that informs their instructional decisions.

  • For instance, a middle school teacher might observe through adaptive learning insights that a group of students struggles with fractions. Armed with this knowledge, the teacher can design targeted in-class activities and small group sessions to address this specific challenge effectively.

Different Adaptivity Types and Adaptivity Factors

Diverse forms of adaptivity, encompassing various types and factors, contribute to crafting a tailored and impactful learning experience for students. The following section dissects these ideas using clear and straightforward language.

Adaptivity Factors

Adaptive learning considers a range of factors to create tailored educational experiences:

  1. Learning Style: Understanding how a student learns best—whether through visual aids, hands-on activities, or auditory explanations—helps adapt the teaching approach to match their style, enhancing comprehension and engagement.
  2. Pace: Students learn at different speeds. Adaptivity factors in their pace, allowing faster learners to move ahead while ensuring that slower learners have the time to grasp the material fully.
  3. Prior Knowledge: Building on existing knowledge is crucial. Adaptivity considers what a student already knows, avoiding redundancy or skipping over essential foundational concepts.
  4. Feedback: Regular feedback helps learners understand their progress and areas needing improvement. Adaptivity incorporates timely feedback to guide students toward mastery.


Adaptivity manifests through different types, each catering to specific learning aspects:

  • Content Adaptivity. This type focuses on adjusting the learning material to match learners’ proficiency levels and preferences. It ensures that students are challenged appropriately without feeling overwhelmed or underwhelmed by the content.
  • Assessment Adaptivity. Assessment adaptivity tailors quizzes and tests to a student’s knowledge level, providing questions that match their current understanding to avoid frustration or discouragement.
  • Sequence Adaptivity. Sequence adaptivity arranges learning materials logically, ensuring foundational concepts are grasped before moving on to more complex topics.

By embracing these adaptivity types and factors, educational institutions create an environment where learning is finely tuned to individual capabilities.

Various Adaptive Learning Tools

From interactive simulations that transport students into virtual laboratories to multimedia resources that transform complex concepts into engaging visuals, these tools are the cornerstone of personalized learning experiences. Through their adaptability, these tools cater to diverse learning styles, ensuring that each student finds a path to understanding that resonates with their individual strengths.

Adaptive Content

Imagine a learning environment where the content adjusts to meet each student’s needs. It is the essence of adaptive content. Rather than adhering to a one-size-fits-all model, adaptive content tailors itself based on individual proficiency levels, learning styles, and progress. This dynamic approach ensures that students are neither overwhelmed by overly complex material nor held back by the content they’ve already mastered.

Adaptive Sequence

The learning journey is not linear; it’s a multi-faceted exploration that unfolds differently for each individual. Concepts are presented in a sequence that maximizes comprehension, ensuring learners build a strong foundation before progressing to more intricate ideas.

Adaptive Assessment

Gone are the days of one-size-fits-all tests that often fail to gauge students’ understanding accurately. Adaptive assessment tailors itself to each learner’s knowledge level, providing questions that are challenging yet attainable. This approach offers a fair evaluation and valuable insights into students’ strengths and areas for improvement.

Adaptive Learning Platforms: A Revolution in EdTech

In modern education, adaptive learning is often amidst a web of misconceptions and misattributions. It’s crucial to differentiate between what adaptive learning truly entails and the notions it dispels.

Here’s the key: Adaptive learning is like a guide that adjusts the way you learn based on how you’re doing. It’s not about labels like age or test scores. Instead, it watches how you’re progressing and shapes the path to your success.

Now, the tricky part is not confusing it with personalized learning and competency-based learning. These are both essential parts of the education puzzle, but they’re not the same. To illustrate the differences, let’s consider a scenario where students are learning algebra:

1. Adaptive Learning

What adaptive learning truly entails

An adaptive learning platform offers different algebra exercises to students. If a student consistently answers equation-solving questions correctly, the system adapts by presenting more complex algebraic problems to ensure their progress.

Developing an adaptive learning LMS typically involves creating complex algorithms and data analytics capabilities. This can lead to higher development costs due to the advanced technology required for real-time data processing and content adaptation. The customization aspect of adaptive learning can also increase development time and costs, as the LMS needs to be finely tuned to adapt to individual learners effectively.

2. Personalized Learning

What personalized learning truly entails

In a personalized algebra class, students can choose from various algebra topics, such as equations, inequalities, or graphing, based on their interests and prior knowledge. They also have the freedom to choose learning materials that resonate with their learning preferences, whether videos, interactive simulations, or textbook readings.

Building a personalized learning LMS involves developing a user-friendly interface that allows students to customize their learning paths, access a variety of resources, and track their progress. While personalization might not require as complex algorithms as adaptive learning, creating a seamless user experience can still contribute to development costs.

3. Competency-Based Learning

What competency-based Learning learning truly entails

In a competency-based algebra course, students move forward once they can successfully demonstrate their mastery of solving algebraic equations. It doesn’t matter how many attempts they make; they progress only when they can consistently and accurately solve equations.

Implementing a competency-based learning LMS focuses on building a platform that tracks and assesses specific skills or competencies. This can involve creating detailed assessment tools and performance tracking features, which may impact development costs. However, since the emphasis is on mastery rather than complex adaptability, the overall development cost might be somewhat lower compared to adaptive learning.

Regardless of the approach chosen, investing in a well-designed and functional platform can yield substantial returns in terms of improved training outcomes, learner engagement, and operational efficiencies. It’s crucial to conduct a thorough cost-benefit analysis and work closely with developers to align the chosen approach with your organization’s training goals and budget constraints.

The Impact of Adaptive Learning

  • UCLA Case Study: Adaptive learning implementation at UCLA increased median exam scores from 53% to 72-80%. Additionally, course attrition decreased four-fold, from 43.8% to 13.4%.
  • DreamBox Learning Success: DreamBox Learning, an adaptive math program for K-8 students, reported that students who used the platform for at least 60 minutes per week saw 59% higher growth in math proficiency compared to those who didn’t.
  • The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Adaptive Learning Market Acceleration Program reported that institutions using adaptive courseware saw an average increase of 9% in student retention and a 7% increase in course completion rates.
  • Knewton, an adaptive learning technology provider, reported that students using their platform experienced a 23% increase in learning outcomes.
  • McGraw-Hill Education’s Impact Study revealed that 84% of students using adaptive learning platforms found personalized feedback provided by technology precious.

Educational organizations looking to embrace the future of learning can benefit from adaptive learning solutions. Utilizing the potential of adaptive learning platforms, whether proprietary or open source, institutions can craft compelling learning experiences tailored to the requirements of each student.

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What is adaptive learning in teaching?

Adaptive learning refers to an educational approach that utilizes technology and data analysis to tailor instruction to individual students’ needs. It adapts content, pace, and methods based on students’ progress and learning patterns, enhancing engagement and comprehension.

How does adaptive learning work?

Adaptive learning employs data-driven algorithms to assess students’ strengths, weaknesses, and learning styles. It then adjusts content, sequencing, and assessments to match each student’s proficiency level, providing personalized pathways for effective learning.

What are the goals of adaptive learning?

The goals of adaptive learning include enhancing student engagement, improving comprehension, and increasing retention rates. It aims to provide personalized learning experiences that cater to individual needs, thereby maximizing educational outcomes.

How do you use adaptive learning?

To use adaptive learning, educators integrate technology platforms that analyze student data and adjust content accordingly. Educators monitor students’ progress and leverage insights to refine instruction, ensuring tailored learning experiences.

Best adaptive learning platforms

Some of the best adaptive learning platforms include Coursera, Knewton, DreamBox, McGraw-Hill’s ALEKS, and Pearson’s MyLab. These platforms leverage technology to provide personalized learning paths and engaging educational content.


  1. EDUCAUSE. (2017). 7 Things You Should Know About Adaptive Learning.
  2. California State University. (n.d.). Adaptive Learning.
  3. Montclair State University. (n.d.). Adaptive Learning. Retrieved from
  4. University of Louisiana at Lafayette. (n.d.). Benefits of Adaptive Learning.
  5. The Ohio State University. (n.d.). Glossary: Adaptive Learning.
  6. Harvard Medical School. (n.d.). Adaptive Learning.
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