Interesting read on the move towards adaptive learning from Slate.
Whelan, the instructor, does not lecture. What would be the point, when no two students are studying the same thing? Instead, she serves as a sort of roving tutor, moving from one student to the next as they call on her for help. A teaching assistant is also on call to help those who get stuck or to verify that they’re ready to take their next test. As the students work, the software logs everything from which questions they get right and wrong to the amount of time they spend on each one. When Whelan’s online dashboard tells her that several are struggling with the same concept, she’ll assemble those students and work through some problems as a small group. It’s teaching as triage.
The result is a classroom experience starkly different from the model that has dominated American education for the past 100 years. In a conventional classroom, an instructor stands behind a lectern or in front of a whiteboard and says the same thing at the same time to a roomful of very different individuals. Some have no idea what she’s talking about. Others, knowing the material cold, are bored. In the middle are a handful who are at just the right point in their progress for the lecture to strike them as both comprehensible and interesting. When the bell rings, the teacher sends them all home to read the same chapter of the same textbook.
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