The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation sought to find out, and gave money to 14 colleges and universities to test some of the most popular “adaptive learning” software in the marketplace, including products from a Pearson-Knewton joint venture, from a unit of McGraw-Hill Education called ALEKS and from the Open Learning Initiative. Most of the universities combined the software with human instruction, but a few courses were delivered entirely online. Almost 20,000 college students and 300 instructors participated in the experiment over the course of three terms between 2013 and 2015. It’s probably the largest and most rigorous study of adaptive learning to date.
Although the study was conducted exclusively at colleges and universities, Means said she suspects researchers would find similar results with adaptive software used at elementary, middle and high schools.
1. The software in and of itself isn’t a magical teacher
2. Universities aren’t monitoring whether the technology they’re using is working