Adaptive Competency eLearning: Self-Paced Learning at its Best

What is Adaptive Competency eLearning?

Adaptive: the learning environment (or technology) responds to the student’s level of understanding and directs them to the content that will help them make connections.

Competency: students must demonstrate that they are competent in each standard in order to move to the next module of study (an understanding of 75% or more).

eLearning: the use of online course material in a fully online, blended, or flipped learning environment.

Imagine an online course that addresses the needs of students at every level. Seriously. It may seem like an obvious statement since we often expect the education system to reach every student, but this just isn’t the reality. Although this may be a surprise to many people, it’s entirely possible that your child is bored in class, or extremely frustrated that she is being pushed through lessons and activities before she understands it.

I remember a distinct moment during group work in fifth grade that I wanted to scream, “SLOW DOWN! I don’t get it!” I was ten and I recognized that I was falling behind, and I didn’t want to just copy down the group’s answers. I was very frustrated for the entire activity. My marks would indicate that teachers considered me to be a bright enough student, but I needed more time, or at least a different approach to that particular concept. When we think about it, it’s not surprising that the same students who seem bored one week, might be frustrated the next, depending on the idea or skill set being taught. Students are often labelled “exceptional” at either end of the spectrum, but these labels do little to address the needs of everyone, since we all excel and struggle at times. I don’t think it’s exceptional that people process various ideas at different speeds. I think that’s the norm.

The idea behind Hekademia’s Adaptive Competency eLearning (ACe) course model is that students have to demonstrate competency before they can move on. It’s completely self-paced. The benefit of the online model is that students can work on the lessons at their current levels of understanding (either in a blended learning environment or in a flipped classroom model), freeing up the teacher to circulate and help students one-on-one regardless of where they’re at in the unit. One student might be in the re-visitation loop, while others might be working on enrichment, ready to move on to the next topic. Regardless, the teacher can help individual students make connections.

ACe Unit 2 Pathway

The model is great in a fully online environment because the system directs students to specific content based on their current level of understanding. Teachers encourage them and provide feedback remotely, much like Virtual High School’s asynchronous, self-paced model that has been providing students with successful learning experiences for almost 15 years. In any case, the ACe course ensures that every student is successful; whether they took the long or short road, they get to the end having demonstrated competency. What’s even more exciting are the implications for removing grades from the education system. It’s liberating to think that learning might be driven by curiosity and intrinsic motivation rather than a subjective numerical value. But, that’s a topic for another day.

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