In just about any instructional environment, a teacher or trainer is typically faced with learners who represent a wide variety of experience and a diverse body of knowledge coming into a class or seminar.
This presents several challenges to the trainer, who has crafted a curriculum based on a clear starting point and amount of information they hope to impart within the program’s parameters. In other words, most curricula are designed as “one size fits all” rather than a “custom fit.”
As a result, the learners are forced into a situation where they must adapt themselves to the material, rather than the instruction customizing itself to serve the needs of the learner. Some will already possess knowledge on the topic being taught, and will be bored during the early portions of the class or seminar, while others might find themselves behind the baseline level of knowledge the curriculum takes for granted. They will struggle to catch up.
Adaptive teaching attempts to solve this problem by using information about what a learner knows or doesn’t know about a topic and suggesting either remedial material before beginning or an appropriate place in the curriculum to jump in and continue.
Because this initial assessment is required, adaptive teaching tools can frequently include computer-based pre-tests and guided learning. From these early assessments, traditional forms of study such as supplemental reading, can be recommended.
One tool that also lends itself to streamlining this process in the business training or seminar environment is audience response technology. Using these tools, instructors can gather data on time spent reading supplemental information found online and scores on self-assessment, while each learner is individually guided through these materials. Follow up tests and quizzes can also be administered through audience response technology to gauge a learner’s progress.