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Adapting Learning with Digital Tutoring
J. D. Fletcher

Computer technology has been used for over 50 years to tailor learning experiences to the needs and interests of individual learners at all levels of instruction. It provides adaptation and individualization that is difficult if not impossible to apply in a classroom of 20–30 students. This article provides a brief background and discussion about adapting instruction for individuals, the use of computer technology to deliver adaptive instruction, and finally the design, development, and assessment of a computer-based tutor developed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) using machine intelligence to capture the benefits of one-on-one tutoring for individuals. This tutor provided novice US Navy sailors with 16 weeks of instruction in information technology. The Tutor accelerated their development to expert-level capabilities and enabled them to outperform, with effect sizes in excess of three standard deviations, other novice learners who received 35 weeks of classroom instruction and sailors with an of average 9 years of experience.

Keywords: Adaptive instruction, Individualized instruction, Digital tutoring, Effectiveness of digital tutoring, Intelligent tutoring systems, Acceleration of expertise, Information systems technology

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