First, thanks to Luke, Kathleen, and Carolyn.
I’m still inclined to to try to do some kind of project paper for this course, and I find Luke’s breakdown of options helpful… but have still not yet managed to tackle. Am working on our course readings first…. and followed Watters’ link to What Faculty Should Know About Adaptive Learning.
I think Feldstein’s article itself is fine, maybe even valuable, but I was really put off by this paragraph:
Here are a few examples of adaptive learning in action:
A student using a physics program answers quiz questions about angular momentum incorrectly, so the program offers supplemental materials and more practice problems on that topic.
A history student answers questions about the War of the Roses correctly the first time, so the program waits an interval of time and then requizzes the student to make sure that she is able to remember the information.
A math student makes a mistake with the specific step of factoring polynomials while attempting to solve a polynomial equation, so the program provides the student with extra hints and supplemental practice problems on that step.
An ESL writing student provides incorrect subject/verb agreement in several places within her essay, so the program provides a lesson on that topic and asks the student to find and correct her mistakes.
This feels to me like a demo for what is wrong with adaptive learning approaches– “customizing” in contrast to authentic “personalizing”. Feldstein plugged in variables of word-pairs in each of his “specific” examples. But they are in fact nearly interchangeable! Take “physics/angular momentum”, “history/War of the Roses”, “math/specific step of factoring polynomials/attempting to solve a polynomial equation” and “ESL writing/ subject/verb agreement/ essay” and move them around within the four examples, and mostly it’ll make no difference. yes, there’s “information” for history, and “practice problems” for physics and math, but much of the language is blandly one-size-fits-all, and those minor tweaks do not change much.
So, I am feeling frustrated by what I perceive as the inescapable pervasiveness of our #algorithmic_dystopia; and feeling frustrated by my cynicism, but preferring it to the alternative of naivete…. and grateful for this space in which to rant.