Adaptive learning: personalization applied to education

With the recent growth of digital technologies and, especially, access to the Internet, there has been as increase in in niche consumerism, as opposed to mass consumerism. People no longer need to buy an album with 12 songs, for example, to have that favorite song in their collection. Broadcast TV programming also lost its power to determine our entertainment: we have the option to mix web series, YouTube shows, watch movies through streaming movies and live news broadcasts on social networks, the way we like the most.

The journalist and internet guru Chris Anderson described the phenomenon in 2006 as “Long Tail”, predicting that customization and niche consumerism would revolutionize the business world. From then on, choosing what we want to consume is becoming more and more common, and the same happens with education.

Digital teaching tools are becoming more popular in classrooms, giving more autonomy to students, who have the possibility to define, along with the educator, a learning journey that best suits their needs. This adaptation may include not only the type of content the student will have access to, but the formats of their choice, the pace and sequence to accomplish assignments and study goals. Therefore, personalization can strengthen students’ abilities and help give more attention to their weaknesses, making education richer and more effective. Feedback from teachers also becomes more focused as they have a more particular overview of each student’s performance.

The benefits of adaptive learning are important for the dissemination of the entrepreneurial culture, as they reinforce the protagonism of students in their learning journey and demand more proactivity, creativity, cooperation and responsibility with their own studies – essential skills for the new education and the new job market, which are set in the 21st century.

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