An adaptive approach

2012-02-17 11:23 by Johan Ranstam

Think about this situation: you’re blind, or almost. When taking a walk, you have a white cane as your assistance. To avoid objects standing still it’s great. But when crossing a street, there’s not much the cane can do about cars in motion. Therefore, you’re guided by a ticking sound when crossing the street. The cars stops at the red light, and you walk towards the ticking sound at the other side of the road. But what if there’s a lot of traffic, making lots of sound?

”The solution is adapting the volume to the surroundings”, says Gustav, one of the programmers responsible of translating the idea of Number Bonds to an app. He talks about the idea of adaptive technology, something he hadn’t used before starting to work with Number Bonds by Thinkout. ”In the same way that the sound adapts to the surroundings, the speed of the rods falling in Number Bonds by Thinkout adapts to the learners ability. Amongst other things. Even the ”tutorial” is adaptive, since it only shows if the learner has problems starting the game play.”, continues Gustav.

Using adaptive technology isn’t very common in the edutainment (or education, for that matter) sector. Rather, the regular way is repeating the assignment, missing the chance of optimizing the learning curve to the student’s abilities. If a student needs time to solve the problem, let time be given! It’s one of the most important lessons from Professor Diana Laurillard’s research, on which Number Bonds by Thinkout is based. Adaptivity is one of the advanced features you can’t see when playing the game, but it’s what makes the difference.

”Since it isn’t to regular using adaptive technology, it wasn’t to easy to get it into the app. It’s one story to program adaptivity, but a totally different one to find the right levels. If we didn’t make the adaptivity, it would be yet another of those apps trying to bore the learner to understanding. I’m glad we made it.”, says Gustav.

There’s a lot of writing out there on adaptivity and the possibility to enhance learning by using it. Here’s a one year old example from Meg Wilsons (special educations teacher in Amity Middle School Orange in southern Connecticut and Apple Distinguished Educator): Breaking Down Barriers Between General Education and Special Education and here’s some other thoughts from Karla at Totthoughts: parenting in an digital era.