The Downfalls of Adaptive Learning

Published: Nov. 6, 2020, 6:45 p.m.

What is "adaptive learning?"

"Adaptive learning" means that computer algorithms automatically adjust question difficulty for students as they work. The algorithms provide an automated path designed to stretch kids on an individual basis and push them to the edge of their zone of proximal learning.

Sounds good. What's not to love?

Keep in mind that what sounds positive isn't all positive; very few teachers and administrators realize the shortcomings of adaptive learning.

While adaptive learning sounds good, it creates a blind spot because it takes teachers out of the learning process. Teachers "press play" and the algorithms take over, which means the teacher becomes a bystander to the student's learning. The teacher gets very little feedback into where students are struggling, and students have no way to see their own progress.

Teachers are needed now more than ever

Underscoring the urgency is that with COVID-slide and schools still in flux with hybrid learning, now, more than ever, teachers need visibility into exactly where each student is and where they need their teacher's help.

What we stand for at USATestprerp

Being "by teachers, for teachers," we want to help teachers teach better, not take them out of the student's learning process. Replacing teachers with computer algorithms creates limitations. We don't believe you can--or should--replace teachers with algorithms... that creates all kinds of problems. That's why we don't offer adaptive learning.

Instead, we make this entire process easy for teachers, with data visualizations they can use to drive regular student practice and clear, measurable progress. Or, if your school uses an adaptive learning platform, the USATestprep Progress platform can be used as a complement to these systems. Because we're often only 10-20% the price of these bigger systems (a small fraction!), we're an easy addition that gives teachers the visibility and tools they need to still teach effectively while utilizing one of these more automated adaptive learning tools.

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