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Adaptive Learning

Oregon State U to Create Adaptive Chemistry Lab Simulations

Online students at Oregon State University will soon be able to perform lab experiments virtually, thanks to a new project with adaptive learning and instructional design company Smart Sparrow.

The collaboration, part of a campuswide initiative to use adaptive courseware to improve outcomes for the university's undergraduate online learners, will "allow chemistry faculty to design their own wet lab simulations to enhance the student learning experience in place of in-person lab experiments," according to a press release.

"Smart Sparrow's team of learning designers and engineers will work with subject-matter experts from OSU's Department of Chemistry to create wet lab support tools that will enable instructors to create and configure their own scientifically meaningful, adaptive chemistry lab simulations," the release explained. "OSU Ecampus distance students will be able to practice lab techniques and procedures in a risk-free, online environment, providing opportunities to build additional experience." The project, initially focused on OSU's general chemistry course sequences for non-science majors, is expected to be completed early next year.

Smart Sparrow's platform allows instructors to incorporate adaptive feedback into course materials as well as create adaptive pathways based on students' learning needs. The adaptivity can be changed or updated at any time. Instructors then receive real-time analytics on how students interact with the material, helping identify common mistakes and topics that may need additional coverage in class.

"Oregon State has long been at the forefront of technology-enabled learning and pedagogical innovation. Many of our instructors, particularly in the math and science fields, have extensive experience with adaptive learning technology," said Michael Lerner, professor of chemistry at Oregon State University, in a statement. "With Smart Sparrow, we see an opportunity to put instructors in the driver's seat, giving them the tools and real-time data to customize an effective personalized and adaptive lab learning experience."

"Oregon State's unique commitment to not just technological, but pedagogical innovation is reflected in the depth of experience and commitment of their faculty," said Dror Ben-Naim, founder and CEO of Smart Sparrow, in a statement. "This collaboration has the potential to further advance the field, by bringing the insights of pioneering faculty to bear on creating learning environments that engage and motivate students in challenging, but critical, lab courses."

About the Author

Rhea Kelly is editor in chief for Campus Technology, THE Journal, and Spaces4Learning. She can be reached at [email protected].

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