HomeeLearning BlogeLearningAdaptive Learning vs Personalised Learning

Adaptive Learning vs Personalised Learning

Posted by: waadmin
Category: eLearning

Adaptive learning and personalised learning are two terms that are often used interchangeably by educators. Despite their close relation, they are very different terms. 

The WCET Summit in Santa Fe, NM in June 2015 gave out proper definitions for both the terms. Adaptive learning involves technology charting a suitable learning path whereas personalised refers to the path directed by the educator. 

Let us take a deeper look at both meanings to see which fares better than the other. 


What is adaptive learning?

Adaptive learning is a technology-based education model that creates a unique learning course or pattern based on the learner’s needs and skills. It is tailor-made for the learner where computer algorithms work to deliver learning resources and activities. 

The adaptive learning approach aims to provide courses that are customised for each and every student to help them engage better instead of going by the ‘one size fits all’ of traditional learning methods.


The benefits of adaptive learning

Adaptive learning offers many benefits to educators and learners. Some of them are listed below:

  • It is an inclusive approach that considers the strengths and weaknesses of every learner to create a unique path for them.
  • It personalises the learning process to make it more meaningful for educators and learners.
  • By being a data-based approach, it allows for better accuracy and analysis for further improvement.
  • It is a digital method that both appeals to young learners and prepares them for the digital revolution going on right now. 
  • It is an excellent way to learn for students that struggle with the traditional methods of learning.


How does adaptive learning work?

The software studies a student’s understanding of a topic based on past data about their responses and learning patterns. It also studies it in a present lesson. It then adjusts the next lesson accordingly.

This way, if a learner is slow in grasping concepts, the subsequent lessons are exercised to reinforce the ideas in a simpler way instead of being a new or related topic. All students in a group using adaptive learning for the same material will have different, nonlinear paths.


What is personalised learning?

Personalised learning, also called individualised instruction, is an education method where the educator is free to alter the learning path of a student based on their skills and needs.

The educator may resort to technology to map out the best path for their students, but the method doesn’t rely on the technology itself to create the learning path. One-on-one tutoring is the most common example of personalised learning.


Benefits of personalised learning

Personalising the learning experience for every student may feel daunting or exhausting, but it has far-reaching benefits in the long run. Key advantages of personalised learning are:

  • It works on the bond between humans and the educator can sense things that technology might not. For instance, a student guessing an answer instead of knowing it.
  • It allows students to work at their own pace as they know their teacher will work the class around it.
  • It motivates students to learn better and speak up to their tutor in case of doubts.


Adaptive vs. Personalised Learning: the results

Personalised learning absorbs adaptive learning into it. An educator using a personalised learning approach can very well use technology to study the students’ learning patterns to formulate the best path forward for them.

Adaptive learning focuses on an individual’s growth. Whereas personalised learning is a continuous process that continues to adapt to new methodologies and technologies. Most importantly, it adapts to the learner’s growth to create the best path forward.



Adaptive learning and personalised learning are two related but different methodologies to teach students. Adaptive learning relies on technology to study a learner and create the most optimum learning path for them.

Personalised learning relies on an educator using whatever means necessary to create the best learning path for their students. Personalised learning uses adaptive learning to teach students and is a continuous process that is constantly evolving.