NEXT: Adaptive Learning Holds Promise for the Future of Higher Education

Submitted by BNCAdmin on Mon,07/25/2016-10:21

As an educational model, differentiated instruction has been around since the time of Socrates. As a method of providing a classroom of students, often with differing abilities, instruction based on individual aptitudes for learning, it has been an effective alternative to repetitive rote memorization that is still widely practiced in many countries around the world. Today, with the widespread availability of new learning software and platforms, differentiated instruction can take on a revolutionary role under the guise of adaptive learning, and it could alter our thinking about education and the way students learn.



In adaptive learning, the more a student interacts with the course material, the more the software adapts to the individual student’s learning strengths and weaknesses — modifying the teaching method accordingly. In this way, adaptive learning provides students with access to more individualized tutoring and with it, its proponents claim, the opportunity for greater student success. What most sets adaptive learning apart from other modern-day learning technologies is that it analyzes the learning history of the student using it and provides interactive adjustments based on their understanding and ability to learn. Supporters of adaptive learning say it could be the answer to what has become now known as the ‘iron triangle’ of education’s biggest challenges: cost, access, and quality.


Technology now enables more opportunity for affordable personalization of teaching, as Barnes & Noble Education’s Chief Digital Officer Jay Chakrapani points out. “Technology isn’t about one size fitting all,” he says. “We can treat every individual as an individual, and provide them with a very individualized experience, like having a private tutor — without a massive cost outlay.”


Arguably, adaptive learning systems can also provide better access to education. It is perfectly suited to distance learning, for example, while the ability for the material to adapt to the learner’s individual aptitudes has particular value for remedial students. It also arrives at a time when campuses are teeming with ‘digital natives’ — Millennials and Generation Zs  — who have grown up with consumer-based interactive technologies anticipating their needs and, that too, may guarantee a higher level of engagement with their lessons.


While adaptive learning will have an impact on course delivery, it will also have an impact on how those subjects are taught. According to a study conducted by Gallup on behalf of Inside Higher Ed entitled, Survey of Faculty Attitudes on Technology, 61 percent of respondents believe that adaptive learning has “great potential to make a positive impact on higher education.” But how do you teach it? Although the technology is programmed to provide a similar interaction to that of a teacher, it still requires an instructor — even if just in a more supportive coaching role.


The argument about quality is supported by the fact that faculty, with less time needed to deliver content, can concentrate on at-risk students or participate in one-on-one or small group settings that support the interactive lesson. The learner-centric analytics — personalized data that the software learns about each student — can also provide not just the professor, but the students themselves, feedback on their particular learning strengths and weaknesses as a further measure of student success.



Though adaptive learning is not new, interest has gained momentum with a slew of technology providers now flooding the Ed Tech market. Weighing in as big supporters of the idea, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has convened the “Personalized Learning Network,” which has brought together institutions to discuss the potential of adaptive learning, particularly for low income and disadvantaged students. If this is the beginning of the revolution in education, it will undoubtedly present the biggest change in learning since those Socratic teachings.


While banking, shopping and even driving a car have all become more intuitive and user-centric, throughout the years, the process of learning has changed very little. “Learning has always been presented as something different,” explains Barnes & Noble Education’s Chakrapani, “It’s presented as something hard to access and hard to do, and even though we’re early in exploring that at this point in our research, our students have already asked the question, ‘I live one way, why do I need to learn in another?’”


Article reposted from Barnes and Noble College NEXT.

Click here to read original article.

NEXT: FacultyEnlight Provides Liberty University with a Textbook Adoption Platform of Its Own

Submitted by BNCAdmin on Mon,07/18/2016-15:55

Among the many other qualities required to be a successful Barnes & Noble College store manager, the ability to cultivate a deep understanding of the needs of one’s campus partners is something Kathy Scarborough has in spades. When FacultyEnlight launched two years ago, Scarborough’s campus partner, Liberty University, initially passed on implementing the Barnes & Noble College online platform as a way of supporting their textbook adoption process. Although appreciative of the platform’s many features, Liberty developed their own textbook adoption system as a way of answering what they saw to be the individual reporting needs of the university. However, Scarborough was determined to bring the many advantages of FacultyEnlight to Liberty University and last year, she tried again, but with a different result.



“In the academic environment, there are always many stakeholders in the decision to adopt a product likeFacultyEnlight,” explains Barnes & Noble College’s Director of Digital Education, Nicole Guerrieri. “Very often, faculty might see the advantages immediately, but what is equally important to consider is the school’s IT department, who might have very specific requirements that we may also need to address,” she says.


Although faculty members at Liberty University were happy with their adoption system, they still hoped for some additional functionality. “Our system was actually working pretty well,” recalls Dr. Emily Heady, Liberty’s Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education, “but I was hearing from a lot of our faculty that although it was functional, it could also be hard to use. If you already had your ISBN and knew what you were looking for, then easy, no problem, but it wasn’t always helpful if you were looking for something new,” she adds. In partnership with the Barnes & Noble College tech team, Liberty University’s IT department laid out their need for an API capability for FacultyEnlight, and in particular, the ability to run and print any needed reports from the system.


In the meantime, Scarborough was facing some problems of her own with the proprietary textbook adoption system. “Faculty were sending us their adoptions for approval, but the difficulty was there was no authentication of the information they sent,” she explains. Given the often very specific requirements for the Liberty faculty, particularly for specialized course packs and customized titles the university uses in its curricula, this extra step required more checking and more time devoted to verify that the correct titles could be obtained and ordered.


Screen capture of FacultyEnlight.com home page with Liberty University logo


With the customized API enhancements for FacultyEnlight underway, Scarborough attended the Bookstore Innovation Group (BIG) sessions, comprised of bookstore staff and Liberty University administrators and faculty, and presented to individual faculty members whenever there was an opportunity to show them the benefits of FacultyEnlight. This past fall, faculty began submitting adoptions for the Spring 2016 semester using the platform. “For the first time, they could test the API capability, and see all the analytics and reporting populated with real-time data,” Scarborough remarks.


The switch to FacultyEnlight also met with Dr. Heady’s approval. “I’ve been getting a lot of positive feedback about the system, particularly the visual interface,” she says. “A lot of times you’ll know exactly what your book looks like, but you might not remember the exact edition, so that’s helpful and speeds things up a lot for our faculty.” Heady also said her colleagues like the close relationship they have with Textbook Manager Anthony Vorce, who provides additional one-on-one support for textbook adoptions.



In its first trial semester, adoptions at Liberty have gone from .25 percent to over 55 percent using FacultyEnlight. “I’m hearing that our faculty are loving it,” Scarborough reports, “They’re finding it more user-friendly, they’re able to match the order against their stored historical information, and they’re getting notifications of new editions — it’s all helped enormously with accuracy and choice,” she says.


While textbooks are obviously an integral part of the academic process, Dr. Heady explains that if FacultyEnlight can take the burden out of textbook ordering, that might be its greatest value. “Yes, we want to ensure we’re providing our students with the right book, at the right price, but then we want it to be done,” she says. “The fact that we’ve experienced so little drama with the switch to FacultyEnlight is definitely a good sign.” It’s a point Scarborough particularly appreciates. “Faculty’s time is so incredibly valuable,” she says. “To have to go back to them if they ordered an out-of-print book is an extra hurdle for them. Now they have better information, at the time they’re entering it, so their students can get the correct book order to prepare for the first day of classes. It’s all ...continue »