Adaptive Learning in Medical Education: The Final Piece of Technology Enhanced Learning?

Ulster Med J. 2017 Sep;86(3):198-200. Epub 2017 Sep 12.


Technology enhanced learning (TEL) is now common practice in the field of medical education. One of the primary examples of its use is that of high fidelity simulation and computerised mannequins. Further examples include online learning modules, electronic portfolios, virtual patient interactions, massive open online courses and the flipped classroom movement. The rise of TEL has occurred primarily due to the ease of internet access enabling the retrieval and sharing of information in an instant. Furthermore, the compact nature of internet ready devices such as smartphones and laptops has meant that access to information can occur anytime and anywhere. From an educational perspective however, the current utilisation of TEL has been hindered by its lack of understanding of learners' needs. This is concerning, particularly as evidence highlights that during medical training, each individual learner has their own learning requirements and often achieves competency at different rates. In view of this, there has been interest in ensuring TEL is more learner aware and that the learning process should be more personalised. Adaptive learning can aim to achieve this by ensuring content is delivered according to the needs of the learner. This commentary highlights the move towards adaptive learning and the benefits of such an intervention.

MeSH terms

  • Academic Success
  • Computer-Assisted Instruction
  • Education, Medical*
  • High Fidelity Simulation Training
  • Humans
  • Internet
  • Learning*