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Report: Adaptive Life Long Learning for an Inclusive knowledge Economy



In January 2019, the Calhoun Center for Higher Education Innovation at Virginia Tech launched a multiyear project designed to explore the connections between adaptation and inclusiveness in learning. Our thesis was that a full-fledged commitment to adaptive learning has the potential to diversify the emerging knowledge economy while also making it more inclusive. Moreover, increased diversification and inclusiveness can enhance socioeconomic sustainability and enable our society to engage all pertinent voices when approaching complex problems.

To test this thesis, we first explore an adaptive and inclusive approach to defining what we mean by learning and knowing. A dynamic definition allows us to then openly explore adaptation to specific aspects of learning including: i) How is learning realized? ii) When is learning delivered? iii) Who is included in learning?

Our first step was to bring together 60 individuals, each with significant direct experience with adaptive learning. These individuals came from 30 different organizations representing a range of sectors: higher education, K–12 education, industry, and non-profit. Together, we collaboratively developed a three-stage plan: 

  • Stage 1: Record emerging practices in a preliminary report and discuss them during a two-day workshop in Washington, D.C. (March 2019–October 2019)
  • Stage 2: Synthesize the outcomes of the research and discussions into a report that summarizes emerging practices and provides an agile framework of recommendations for further development of adaptive and inclusive lifelong learning. This report concludes the second stage. (November 2019–August 2020)
  • Stage 3: Launch working groups to further explore and test the recommendations of this report. These working groups can be found at the end of this report. They are launching in August 2020 and are open to participation by entities and individuals interested in the project. (August 2020–August 2021)