University Business September 2016 - 40

ADAPTIVE LEARNING CLEARING the HURDLES on the research we did, there was no difference. Students did no better or worse," says Jeff Braden, dean of the College of Humanities and Sciences, who supervised the test program, developed with support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Fulcrum Labs. Yet Braden remains a proponent of adaptive learning. The method moves teaching closer to the active, collaborative approach recommended today, he says. Online coursework suits large classes. And students, who don't all fit the full-time, young adult mold, can file assignments anywhere, anytime. If nothing else, the online content is replacing traditional textbooks, and access is often less expensive than print. In an early pilot of adaptive learning at Central Florida, students were asked if they spent more time on adaptive or traditional coursework. Their answer: adaptive. Asked if they would take another adaptive course, "the answers were overwhelmingly 'yes,' " says Cavanagh. "The students felt they were spending their time valuably." The lecture model at Arizona State has a 20 percent dropout/failure/withdrawal rate-compared to 6 percent for adaptive learning classes, says Dale Johnson, manager of the university's EdPlus adaptive program. "If we can do that across other disciplines, that is tremendous." Challenge 2: Finding resources for development Adaptive learning is hardly an inexpensive endeavor. Some colleges have funded their own work in this area, and some have worked with partners such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and its Adaptive Learning Market Acceleration Program, or ALMAP. Anbar's Center for Education through Exploration partners with the Gates Foundation and Smart Sparrow, provider of a platform that allows institutions to create active and adaptive e-learning courseware. Other schools look inward for funding. "We have been bootstrapping it ourselves, which is maybe why we have not scaled to the level" of some of the other universities, 40 | September 2016 says Cavanagh at Central Florida. UCF offers three adaptive learning courses-general psychology, college algebra and pathophysiology-and many other classes have some adaptive learning components. Arizona State also had no initial grant funding when its math program introduced adaptive learning. "We always told ourselves that if we retain students at a Faculty who will teach the adaptive learning courses must be in place and on board with the program from the start. They also need training in how to use the technology, such as the full day offered to Arizona State instructors twice a year. higher rate, make them more successful, they come back semester after semester," says Phil Regier, university dean for educational initiatives and CEO of EdPlus at Arizona State. "That is a revenue stream we wouldn't have if they quit." The university now works with several vendors to offer adaptive learning classes. As for the investment required, Johnson says Arizona State's spend averaged $100,000 for each of the last three systems built from scratch in partnership with vendors. Breaking that down, about $50,000 was spent on faculty time. Teams of two to four faculty members worked with a provider on content, report development and system testing. Grants did cover a large portion of these costs over the past few years, he adds. The remaining $50,000 covers operating costs for project managers, instructional designers, video producers, graphic designers, systems integrators and administrative personnel. For an extra fee, Johnson notes, providers can often manage installation of a course. Challenge 3: Winning over instructors and students The future of learning will move teaching from delivering information to managing learning, says NC State's Braden. "The adaptive learning model delivers richer data to track students. This changes my role to the guide on the side-this change can be threatening to those who have mastered the 'stand and deliver' method." Arizona State's Johnson says campus administrators must develop a culture that encourages instructors to become leaders of an active learning environment. Content is delivered online, where adaptive technology helps a student learn concepts. Students then gather in smaller groups for active learning such as lab work, putting what they learned online into practice. Faculty who will teach the adaptive learning courses must be in place and on board with the program from the start, he adds. Training is also key. Arizona State also offers instructors a full day of training, twice a year, on how to use the technology. The institution involved an instructional designer, project managers, instructional technologist and business managers from the start. "You don't want to dictate; you want buy-in," Regier says. Students need to adjust, too. Cavanagh of Central Florida recalls a group of students who were dissatisfied with their grades on an evaluation in the adaptive learning patho-physiology class. The instructor told them to go back and repeat the test until they raised their grades-they were (happily) surprised they could. "Adaptive learning is about mastery," he says. Challenge 4: Selecting the right team or provider UCF faculty spent a good amount of time over one semester building its three adaptive courses. "The level of effort and complexity is a barrier to scale," Cavanagh says. "And faculty are never done. They enhance, add content and questions. The more you work on it, the richer and deeper it gets." The university was able to scale adaptive www.universitybusiness.com http://www.universitybusiness.com

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