design or produce (something) to meet someone’s individual requirements.
We personalise things ourselves by making them individual to us. Most products in EdTech that claim to be personalised do so through allowing choice: as well as choosing motivational features such as avatars (fairly standard these days) you may also make choices about the work that you do. Alternatively, tasks might be selected by a teacher or a parent, either in the app or website itself or remotely through a dashboard.
1. make (something) suitable for a new use or purpose; modify.
2. become adjusted to new conditions.
To adapt to a new purpose or new conditions, first it is necessary to fully understand what those conditions are. Learning systems that are adaptive will incorporate three elements:
a. data collection on existing progress
b. analysis of data, leading to
c. adaptations in the child’s work program.
Easiest here to use DoodleMaths as an example:
a. aside from the initial assessment, we collect the following data for every child for every question answered: time taken, attempts taken, date stamp, questionID, conceptID.
b. this is then analysed to gain an understanding of both the child’s progress and also the population as a whole (this allows us to spot questions that are perhaps a little too hard, too easy, etc.)
c. we then adapt the work program in three ways: level (on a general basis, are the questions too difficult, too hard, or just right for the child?); strengths and weaknesses (e.g. what are they finding difficult? Do we need to remediate here – if yes, add it into the work program); pace of learning (e.g. if they’ve found the last topic easy, let’s crack on, but if it’s tricky, let’s stick with it until they’ve mastered it).
There are other ways a program can adapt, too, for example, confidence level (some children are disheartened getting lots wrong, others can cope) or learning style (we have identified that some children have a preference for some question styles in DoodleMaths although we don’t adapt the work program in this way, currently.)
So personalised and adaptive mean very different things in EdTech: personalising is done by the user, usually at the start of using a product; adapting is done on an ongoing basis by the product itself. Most products have some kind of personalisation feature, but very few are truly adaptive.