Stop outsourcing adaptive teaching to technology

“Ubiquitous technology… may be the new hope for the future of education.”

At the turn of the century technology was becoming a part of our lives and gradually, of our school systems. As technology improved so did our eagerness to use it in classrooms in the form of computer labs, iPads, and even educational games. Educators have become more adept at using this educational technology, and are eager to include it in another well established concept: adaptive teaching.

In fact, plenty of research about adaptive teaching refers to technology. A paper written by Candace A. Walkington and published by the Journal of Educational Psychology states boldly that “As technology advances, more powerful methods will emerge to customize learning to the events, objects, and activities that are personally relevant, evocative, and motivating to students.” Vicky Jones and Jun H. Jo of the School of Information Technology put it even simpler: “Ubiquitous technology… may be the new hope for the future of education.”

ComputersTechnology is unavoidable. Teachers who can successfully integrate it into their classrooms gain a powerful tool that boosts student motivation and engagement. That is, so long as we don’t fall into the trap of using tech as a crutch. There are three important things to keep in mind when deciding how to integrate technology in education:

1. Technological adaptive teaching is inherently student-driven – even with a teacher overseeing, the motivation to interact with educational technology must come from the student.

2. Tech adaptive teaching is still extremely linear – there are only so many different paths you can take when interacting with a computer. With a live instructor who has mastery of his material, the possibilities are practically infinite.

3. By outsourcing adaptive teaching to technology, teachers may be depriving themselves of valuable experience.

There is no algorithm for adaptive teaching. It’s something that is learned through experience and trial and error until you develop an understanding of what unique steps you need to build with each student to raise them to a higher level of thinking. A computer may know several paths to take a student along, but only a real educator can know when it’s necessary to veer from the path.

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