Adaptive Learning For All

Adaptive Learning For All – ALFA


Adaptive learning is a goal for many, but possibly understood by too few.  There are very many papers, reports and even systems that purport to include or offer Adaptive Learning approaches or solutions.

If you are new to Adaptive Learning, or want clarity, then here is a worthwhile paper to read from the DeVry Education Group: DXV White Paper.PDF

This paper has a wonderful Appendix that explains six identifiable levels of adaptivity in learning.


CAPDM differs from all other providers: we do not push a proprietary system that you have to use.  CAPDM’s approach builds on digital repositories of standards-based learning materials that it builds for all clients, but in particular the semantically-rich content marked-up in XML.

This rich base is used to add further layers of information – in the form of a ‘connection graph’ (there is no significance to this name other than a descriptive one) – that augments the core learning content.

This connection graph can be interpreted along with metrics, or measurements, generated from other information (such as online quizzes, inline interactions, etc) to allow adaptivity to be developed for delivery to any learning environment.

CAPDM’s approach to Adaptive Learning is therefore open and extensible, and able to be implemented for a range of platforms.  We supply a basic set of rules used to interpret the level of learning – i.e. mastery – achieved by an individual, but this can be readily replaced with a custom client-produced set if required.  The adaptive behaviour can also be abstracted either from the data of the individual only or from data aggregated from all students.

We call this ALFA – Adaptive Learning For All – as it is not restricted to proprietary platforms or ‘black-box’ algorithms that you have no control over.  It is also an option, not a mandatory part of an offering within any learning environment.  ALFA can be layered to provide:

  • simple Learning Objective feedback and Profiling
  • random, targeted quiz generation
  • adaptive pathway construction.

ALFA reaches Level 4 in the definitions of the White Paper above (Adaptive at both the assessment and content level), but it can be augmented to include the specifics of higher levels.  CAPDM can:

  • direct clients to develop stepped scenarios that fulfil the criteria for Level 5 (Highly adaptive with a very small grain-size of adaptivity)
  • help to integrate role-playing simulations and case studies that fulfil Level 6, though this requires hooks to be available in the simulations that make relevant metrics available for analysis.


ALFA is not an expensive option for a client, but it does require work to be done on creating a ‘connection graph’.  This is not necessarily complicated, but it is the driver of the level of adaptivity that can be achieved.   This extra layer of information is an evolution of the content repository that CAPDM develops for its clients.  We view this as a ‘content stack’, i.e. information built up in ever semantically richer layers of information.  Higher level layers, such as that required to support ALFA, are optional but highly desirable partly as they require a relatively small additional investment of effort and cost.  This repository approach provides many benefits:

  1. the foundation for sustaining long-term involvement in online distance education
  2. the foundation of an institutional digital strategy
  3. a base for improving the overall standard of education and delivery to all students – including adaptivity.