Opening the Black Box of Adaptivity

Dale Johnson, EDUCAUSE Review, Jun 28, 2017
Commentary by Stephen Downes

This article identifies "four techniques which have been used by vendors to decide which lesson sequence and content selection is most effective.

  • Algorithm (analytics) – recommendations
  • Assessment – rapid remediation
  • Association – decision tree
  • Agency – student chooses."

It's a good effort at opening the 'black box' of adaptive courseware. But is the core problem of learning technology really "lesson sequence and content selection"? I don't think so. We're not trying to solve a discovery problem. We're trying to solve a learning problem. The two are very different tasks. And the key danger of adaptive learning is that it conflates one with the other.

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