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Adaptive learning

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Adaptive learning, also known as adaptive teaching, is an educational method which uses computer algorithms to orchestrate the interaction with the learner and deliver customized resources and learning activities to address the unique needs of each learner. In professional learning contexts, individuals may test out of some training to ensure they engage with novel instruction.


Adaptive learning or intelligent tutoring has its origins in the artificial-intelligence movement and began gaining popularity in the 1970s. At that time, it was commonly accepted that computers would eventually achieve the human ability of adaptivity.


In adaptive learning, the basic premise is that the tool or system will be able to adjust to the student/user's learning method, which results in a better and more effective learning experience for the user.


Many learning management systems have incorporated various adaptive learning features.

Distance learning

Adaptive learning systems can be implemented on the Internet for use in distance learning and group collaboration.

The field of distance learning is now incorporating aspects of adaptive learning. Initial systems without adaptive learning were able to provide automated feedback to students who are presented questions from a preselected question bank. That approach however lacks the guidance which teachers in the classroom can provide. Current trends in distance learning call for the use of adaptive learning to implement intelligent dynamic behavior in the learning environment.

Educational game design

In 2014, an educational researcher concluded a multi-year study of adaptive learning for educational game design. The research developed and validated the ALGAE model, a comprehensive adaptive learning model based on game design theories and practices, instructional strategies, and adaptive models. The research extended previous researching in game design, instructional strategies, and adaptive learning, combining those three components into a single complex model.

Development tools

While adaptive learning features are often mentioned in the marketing materials of tools, the range of adaptivity can be dramatically different. Entry-level tools tend to focus on determining the learner's pathway based on simplistic criteria such as the learner's answer to a multiple choice question.