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Adaptive Learning

Armed with $25 Million, Knewton to Expand Adaptive OER Product Line

Just months after Knewton launched Alta, its own line of higher education courseware with adaptive learning built in, the education technology company has closed a new round of financing that will enable it to scale its products. TriplePoint Capital led the funding, with $20 million, and Knewton's existing investors added an additional $5 million.

Alta provides a personalizing learning experience to students. The adaptive learning technology is integrated with open educational resources, enabling the company to make its content available for $44 per course. Previously, the company worked solely with textbook publishers to integrate the adaptive technology into their products.

With the adaptive technology, Alta links a course assignment to learning objectives specified by the instructor. When students run into challenges during an assignment, the adaptive tech diagnoses the learning gap and recommends instructional content as well as an assessment customized to help them achieve mastery of the objectives.

Company officials reported that 250 colleges and universities will be using 36 different Alta products during the fall 2018 term. Course materials cover math, economics, chemistry and statistics, including seven products developed to support math curriculum redesign initiatives.

Among the institutional customers is Park University. "I chose Alta because it levels the playing field for students. It provides support so that I can engage all students in the classroom," said Donna Jean, associate professor of chemistry at the Missouri institution. "If a student is struggling with mathematical problems, Alta quickly diagnoses that and presents the student with instruction geared toward those knowledge gaps."

Andrew Moore, department chair and assistant professor of mathematics at the multi-campus National Louis University, said Alta was the first personalized learning system he's used that "truly delivers on the promise of adaptive technology by continually measuring students' proficiency levels and providing feedback designed to help them achieve mastery." With Alta, he said, "students don't have to wait for their next diagnostic or for me to provide them with that feedback — they receive it immediately."

Knewton said it was working with Johns Hopkins University's Center for Research and Reform to measure the effectiveness of Alta in helping students achieve mastery. Those findings are expected to be presented in the months ahead.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.

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