What’s new about ‘Adaptive Learning’?

How is anything that is being called ‘Adaptive Learning’ more than the programs of past courseware, such as Plato courseware. I used grammar modules on Plato terminals in the first school I taught at in 1992. Besides the advances in the interface, what has changed behind the scenes that takes the activity beyond the ‘if-then’ design of many of the drills and activities? How much more is the intelligent tutoring system today then from days gone by?

Loved this video about the olden day of Plato and computer-based learning from the website, Plato History:


Dr. Sharon Dugdale says at 1.01.30:

“When I started designing for Plato, I had this notion that was in the air at the moment, that the big thing about computers was the individualization and the diagnostic capability and every key press that can be put in by a student can be analyzed and you can branch students off into all sorts of places. It was taking very seriously everything they input and it is going to revolutionize education in that way.

And I very quickly found, and I’m not trying to cast aspersions on that notion because I think that there are kinds of things that can be designed that way, but the things we were designing really weren’t suited to that kinds of treatment and the very social atmosphere that we were seeing particularly in our elementary schools where students would group around a computer or be looking at the screen next to them. There’s some interaction going on, you’re not really hearing from one kid, and you can’t take too seriously every key press that goes in there.

And to me, it made a big difference in backing me off from that notion and putting me somewhat at odds with the people who became the intelligent tutoring movement and having me much more minimal about what you should really say to the student, you need to be really concerned about the environment you give them.”