Q&A: One Nurse Educator’s Experience with Adaptive Technology

Adaptive technology is a hot topic in the world of education today, and many educators are wondering how adaptive tools will impact their classroom and their students. Rose Beebe is an early adopter of adaptive educational tools in the classroom and her perspective is a great example of the benefits this technology can provide.

What is the most valuable thing you have learned during your experiences with adaptive educational tools?

Any time you introduce something new, it is perceived as a disruption to the status quo. Change is always difficult, but for it to be effective you must have both faculty and student buy-in. Without faculty buy-in, students will not see the value. In addition, change is easier to implement from the beginning. Introducing change and new products in the middle of a semester does not work.

What suggestions would you offer faculty pursuing adaptive educational tools?

Become educated on all the features of the products and how the products connect to the course and can be used to make you a better educator. Teaching students how to use the products and understand the value that comes from using the products is crucial.

How did adaptive learning change your teaching style?

It provided an opportunity to hold students accountable for coming to class prepared, and provided a means for faculty to monitor student preparation. Faculty required students to achieve mastery on assigned adaptive learning sets/adaptive quizzing as a ticket to class. Classroom activities reinforced content. Some faculty used a required benchmark with adaptive quizzing as a ticket to take exams.

What was your biggest challenge?

Faculty and student buy-in. Students didn’t see the value in it initially, and thought it took up too much of their time. Faculty was not educated and aware of all of the monitoring features of the products or how to best use the products. For example, adaptive learning tools are best used as preparation for class and determining initial understanding and mastery of basic concepts. Adaptive quizzing products move the student past the memorization phase into a higher level of learning for decision making and clinical judgment. These products are best utilized in preparation for exams.

What was the greatest benefit to faculty, as well as students, when utilizing adaptive educational tools?

For faculty, these are great tools to use to monitor class progress, as well as individual student knowledge in content areas. They provide a means to recognize student strengths/weaknesses, identify high-risk students, and pinpoint difficult content/areas of confusion. This permits faculty to modify class lectures to address areas of confusion/weaknesses and flip the classroom to reinforce difficult content. Being able to compare the class performance to national benchmarks also helps in identifying areas for faculty teaching and curriculum improvement.

Using adaptive tools provides students with the opportunity to track their overall progress in the course and their mastery of specific content areas. Individual strengths/weaknesses and areas needing remediation can be identified. They can compare their performance to the class average and national benchmark, which can be a motivator for some students.